Saturday, November 29, 2008

10 Lies of the Culture of Death

The Supreme Court’s infamous Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand calls to mind the biggest pack of lies ever set in motion — lies that have cost the lives of millions of innocent babies cruelly torn from their mothers’ wombs.

How is it that such a slaughter, so akin to the sordid past of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, is found in the scandalous present of the United States of America, a republic purportedly based on moral values and human rights?

Only when the deadly lies behind abortion became the conventional wisdom could a free people tolerate this crime against mankind — and mankind’s Creator.

As the master par excellence of the big lie, Adolf Hitler wrote in his political treatise Mein Kampf, “the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall victim to a big lie than a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their head, and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentation in others.”

The First Lie:
“We do not know when human life begins.”
“The zygote, a cell measuring less than a tenth of an inch, surely cannot be considered a human being,” the abortionists declare.

This lie can be honestly accepted only by those invincibly ignorant of the development of the human embryo. Only machines such as clocks and cars come into existence part by part. Living beings come into existence all at once and gradually unfold their world of innate potential. A living human begins to exist at the moment of conception, even though only as a cell less than a tenth of an inch. What is important is not the accident of size or weight but the essence — which is fully human.

The Second Lie:
“The fetus is merely a potential person.”
The anti-lifers repackage their first lie to claim that personhood develops gradually.

Even a “potential person” is entitled to protection, which underscores the evil of abortion’s partner in the Culture of Death: contraception. To be sure, at every instant of our lives we need to develop. (Abortion­ists, for example, would benefit from moral development and from growth in love and compassion.) However, we act as human persons accidentally because we are persons essentially. In simple English, someone’s acting like a person is a consequence of his already being a person. The unborn child is not a potential person but a person with potential.

The Third Lie:
“The mother’s rights outweigh her baby’s — even its right to life.”
“It is you ‘fetus-lovers’ who lack compassion,” the baby-killers retort. “Why should the rights of an undeveloped fetus take precedence over the rights of a fully grown woman?”

Why? Because we are talking about a fundamental human right — the right to life. Accordingly, the right to life of the unborn child should take precedence over lesser rights of his mother, just as the right to life of a born child does. A mother is not allowed to kill her children because they inconvenience her, else why did a South Carolina court try and convict Susan Smith for murder when she drowned her unwanted children?

The Fourth Lie:
“Pro-lifers do not care about the mother.”
Believing, as Hitler did, that a big lie often repeated is soon believed, the abortionists persist: “You ‘anti-choice zealots’ are heartless. Why do you favor the life of the unborn child over the life of the born mother, who may even have other children?”

We respond with the words of His Holiness Pope Pius XII: “It is a mistake to formulate the question with this alternative: either the child’s life or the mother’s. No; neither the mother’s life nor the child’s life may be submitted to an act of direct suppression. For the one and the other the requirement can only be this: to make every effort to save the life of both mother and child.”

The Fifth Lie:
“Every child a wanted child.”
Switching gears, the disciples of death mock our concern for the preborn child. “Doesn’t every child have the right to be born wanted?” they ask.

Yes, we reply. The real question is how to realize this ideal — by building a Christian civilization where every child is wanted, or by murdering every “unwanted” child? And unwanted by whom? The countless couples who pray every night for a baby to welcome into their hearts and lives?

“Every child a wanted child... and if not wanted, dead.” Change the words but slightly and we have the words of an earlier Culture of Death that led to the ovens of Auschwitz.

The Sixth Lie:
“Some children are better off dead.”
“It is cruel to let a child be born handicapped or gravely ill,” the able-bodied abortionist protests in his prime.

Has the child finally warmed the cold heart of his enemies? No, their “mercy” is Kevorkianesque. They so love people with disabilities and illnesses that they want to kill them!

But every child is made in the image of God. In Him — and from Him — there is no blemish. God’s image lies in man’s eternal soul, not in his perishable body, and in his indomitable spirit, as the triumphs of Blessed Margaret of Castello, of Baldwin IV the Leper King, of Helen Keller, and of Beethoven — to name but a few prodigies of courage — remind us.

The Seventh Lie:
“The law does not recognize the unborn child’s right to life.”
After all, the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, failed to find any constitutional protection for the right to life of preborn babies, the pro-aborts remind us.

And yet our laws recognize other rights of the unborn, such as the right of inheritance and the right of legal representation. If an unborn child can inherit, be compensated for prenatal injuries, and be represented by a guardian, then any law that allows the destruction of that innocent child is schizophrenic or, as Saint Augustine would say, it is no law at all. So, too, shall find the highest court of any land, that of the Supreme Judge of all.

The Eighth Lie:
“The right to privacy grants a license to abort.”
Roe vs. Wade’s legalization of abortion is based on the constitutional ‘right to privacy.’ Since the decision to have an abortion is a personal and private matter, like religion, government should not interfere,” says this pro-choice ploy.

But a decision is private insofar as it refers only to the interests of the one who decides. When it involves the rights of others, it can no longer be considered private, and this is precisely the case in abortion. What takes place in the “privacy” of the aborted womb is the murder of an innocent human being morally entitled to the full and total protection of the law.

The Ninth Lie:
“Laws against abortion discriminate against the poor.”
Hearing the abortionists, one would think that abortion is an essential part of the “preferential option for the poor.” “The rich will always have access to abortion,” they prate. Mirroring their self-histories, we must not discriminate against the poor — whose babies they, like Margaret Sanger, seek to slaughter.

Yet contrary to Planned Parenthood’s propaganda, the poor are more inclined to welcome children and less inclined to practice birth control than the rich. Those whose values transcend Wall Street treasure sons and daughters more than stocks and bonds. If there is any discrimination here, it is against the babies of the morally impoverished rich sacrificed on the altars of Mammon.

The Tenth Lie:
“We can work together to reduce abortions through birth control.”
“The abortion debate is polarizing the country. Let’s put aside our differences and work together to make abortion rare by providing free and easy access to family planning to all women of childbearing age,” the pill-pushers cajole.

“Family planning” is a rather strange term for providing abortifacients and contraceptives to young unmarried girls so that they may practice “safe sex,” i.e., fornication. As for contraception itself, it is the door to abortion — not the barrier. Abortion is, after all, the ultimate birth control.

In the end, there can be no common ground between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reflection on Suffering

By Plinio Correa de Oliveira

In appearance, Our Lord was defeated, but in reality He was the Victor. 

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In the course of our apostolate, it may seem that we are defeated. Do not become discouraged, but remember:

Those who are defeated, yet defeated carrying their cross, are the true victors.

Because the cross is the wood of defeat, the wood of suffering, the wood of infamy, wood of pain, wood of glory. 

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He who is crushed by the cross is victorious, and he who is victorious without the cross is defeated.

Nine Day Novena in Honor of the Immaculate Conception

To be prayed from November 29 to December 7, eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Pray Our Lady protects America from those who plot against our spiritual and material well-being, as we are consecrated as a nation to the Immaculate Conception.

(For free copies of this picture, please call 888-317-5571 and say "I saw it on Robert's blog".)

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Initial Prayer

(Say every day before the daily novena prayer.)

O IMMACULATE Virgin! Mary, conceived without sin!
Remember, thou wert miraculously preserved from
even the shadow of sin, because thou wert destined
to become not only the Mother of God, but also
the mother, the refuge, and the advocate of man;
penetrated, therefore, with the most lively confidence
in thy never-failing intercession, we most humbly implore
thee to look with favor upon the intentions of this novena,
and to obtain for us the graces and favors we request.

Thou knowest, O Mary, how often our hearts are the
sanctuaries of God, Who abhors iniquity. Obtain for us,
then, that Angelic purity which was thy favorite virtue,
that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, and
that purity of intention which will consecrate every thought, word, and action to His greater glory. Obtain also for us a constant spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we may recover by penance that innocence which we have lost by sin, and at length attain safely to that blessed abode of the Saints, where nothing defiled can enter.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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Day One

Initial prayer, then...

O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and  became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers as we implore you to present at the throne of God the favor we now request. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven.  Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.   Amen.

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Day Two

Initial prayer, then...

O Mary, ever blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of angels and of saints, we salute you with the most profound veneration and filial devotion as we contemplate your holy Immaculate Conception, We thank you for your maternal protection and for the many blessings that we have received through your wondrous mercy and most powerful intercession. In all our necessities we have recourse to you with unbounded confidence. O Mother of Mercy, we beseech you now to hear our prayer and to obtain for us of your Divine Son the favor that we so earnestly request in this novena. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Three

Initial prayer, then...

O Blessed Virgin Mary, glory of the Christian people, joy of the universal Church and Mother of Our Lord, speak for us to the Heart of Jesus, who is your Son and our brother. O Mary, who by your holy Immaculate Conception did enter the world free from stain, in your mercy obtain for us from Jesus the special favor which we now so earnestly seek. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Four

Initial prayer, then...

O Mary, Mother of God, endowed in your glorious Immaculate Conception with the fullness of grace; unique among women in that you are both mother and virgin; Mother of Christ and Virgin of Christ, we ask you to look down with a tender heart from your throne and listen to our prayers as we earnestly ask that you obtain for us the favor for which we now plead. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Five

Initial prayer, then...

O Lord, who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, did prepare a fitting dwelling for your Son, we beseech you that as by the foreseen death of your Son, you did preserve her from all stain of sin, grant that through her intercession, we may be favored with the granting of the grace that we seek for at this time.  (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Six

Initial prayer, then...

Glorious and immortal Queen of Heaven, we profess our firm belief in your Immaculate Conception preordained for you in the merits of your Divine Son. We rejoice with you in your Immaculate Conception. To the one ever-reigning God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three in Person, one in nature, we offer thanks for your blessed Immaculate Conception. O Mother of the Word made Flesh, listen to our petition as we ask this special grace during this novena. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Seven

Initial prayer, then...

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and my mother, from the sublime heights of your dignity turn your merciful eyes upon me while I, full of confidence in your bounty and keeping in mind your Immaculate conception and fully conscious of your power, beg of you to come to our aid and ask your Divine Son to grant the favor we earnestly seek in this novena... if it be beneficial for our immortal souls and the souls for whom we pray. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Eight

Initial prayer, then...

O Most gracious Virgin Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, intercede with him for us that we be granted the favor which we petition for so earnestly in this novena...O Mother of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. O Glorious Mother of God, in memory of your joyous Immaculate Conception, hear our prayers and obtain for us our petitions. (Mention intention.)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

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Day Nine

Initial prayer, then...

O Mother of the King of the Universe, most perfect member of the human race, "our tainted nature’s solitary boast," we turn to you as mother, advocate, and mediatrix. O Holy Mary, assist us in our present necessity. By your Immaculate Conception, O Mary conceived without sin, we humbly beseech you from the bottom of our heart to intercede for us with your Divine Son and ask that we be granted the favor for which we now plead.  (Mention intention.)


O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will.  Amen.

Catholic activist Sue Lopez died; please pray for her soul...

I ask your prayers for a very dedicated and faithful Catholic woman from San Diego, California, Sue Lopez, who died on November 23, feast of Christ the King.

She was an ardent pro-life crusader in San Diego.

Those who knew her say she was truly an inspiration.

She was always very supportive of America Needs Fatima rosary rallies and events, and helped to organize a big procession at the Cathedral for the miraculous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima last January.

Frequently she organized processions to the abortion clinics and had a statue of Our Lady of Fatima lead it.

When Fatima Custodian, Joseph Ferrara was in San Diego recently, she expressed the desire to have the statue of Our Lady of Fatima come to her home.

What was unique about her was that she organized protests and events that confronted the enemies of the Church, and she never backed down.

A week before the Prop 8 vote someone slashed the tires on her vans because she had signs in her yard.  This had happened before, so she knew it was possible again.

*                                   *                               *

I searched for Sue Lopez on my blog and found this article about her diligent and courageous action to protest the blasphemous theater play "Corpus Christi."   It is a good lesson to us all.  

May the Good Lord and Lady who Sue so bravely defended during her life on earth, give her eternal life and rest in heaven -- we ardently hope and pray!!!

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Inspiring, effective and prayerful protest against blasphemous "Corpus Christi" play...

From Sue Lopez:

On Friday, Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I was notified after Mass by a fellow Mass attendee that the blasphemous play Corpus Christi had been showing in San Diego at the *Diversionary Theatre for the month of May and was ending on the weekend of May 31/June 1st.

On June 1st, the first day of the month we dedicate to the Sacred Heart, a public Rosary of reparation was held at the sight of this evil. Many of us were somewhat anxious about confronting the homosexual community as they attended this atrocity, but our Mother in heaven transformed our fears into the overwhelming desire to console Our Lord.

Many not wanting to come alone brought friends and family with them, adding to our numbers.

Over 50 faithful Catholics publicly defended Our Lord against the assaults on His purity in “Corpus Christi” which portrays Him as a gay man having a love affair with Judas in modern times in the city of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Rosary warriors gathered across the street from the Diversionary Theatre at 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights in two rows along the sidewalk and prayed the Rosary interspersed with beautiful heavenly hymns that filled the street honoring the Blessed Virgin and praising her Son.

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima on a platform was held by several people throughout the prayer vigil which lasted from 6:00 to 7:00pm. Participants held homemade signs that read, “Stop blaspheming Our Lord, NOW”. Others held a large banner that read “We are praying for an end to blasphemy.”

We began by asking our Guardian Angels to join us in the Rosary and for the protection of St. Michael. It turned out that the last (7:00pm) showing was canceled. Apparently the 2:00 showing occurred as scheduled.

When one of the participants had called the box office on Friday, the person answering referred to the Sunday night show as if it was still scheduled. Due to the cancellation, the hour was peaceful as we were met with very little opposition barring a few yells from cars going by.

Most people slowed down to read our signs and think about their meaning. What a blessing from Our Lady to have one less performance of this atrocity!

My son recalled Tim Staples, a Catholic apologist, saying that the worst heretics of history attacked all kinds of doctrines but they never dared to attack Jesus’ chastity. Now we are fighting a much greater evil as Jesus’ chastity is up for grabs and is blatantly being attacked in The Last Temptation of Christ, The Da Vinci Code and for the last ten years in Corpus Christi among others.

According to St. Louis de Montfort on the exponential power of prayer, having over 50 people praying, adding to that everyone’s Guardian Angels (100 people/angels praying multiplied by 100 Rosaries credited to each one) and each praying three Rosaries - over 30,000 Rosaries were lifted up to heaven in reparation for the evil done at this location.

Thank you so much to everyone who came to pray this evening especially Fr. Nabil Mouannes of St. Ephrem’s, Deacon Tim Treadwell and the students at John Paul the Great as well as all the faithful prayer warriors and many who participated for the first time in a public Rosary.

Thank you also for everyone who prayed for our protection and this intention from home. It was especially important to counter this evil on a Sunday, the worst day to commit sin – especially to blaspheme Our Lord. Fr. Mouannes gave us his blessing in closing and encouraged everyone to continue to defend our Faith in a public way.

* The Diversionary Theater has built a comfortable niche as San Diego’s most established gay and lesbian theatre” --Sign on San Diego

The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture provides major support for Diversionary Theatre.

---www.diversionary.org

Thursday, November 27, 2008

November 27, Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

our_lady_of_grace[1]

In 1830, Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure, a religious, and entrusted her with the mission to coin Miraculous Medals and spread them.

In a vision on November 27, 1830, Saint Catherine saw Our Lady standing on what seemed to be half a globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to heaven.

On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times were difficult in France then, especially for the poor who were unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached many other parts of the world and are even present today.

Streaming from rings Mary's fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light. Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come because no one had asked for them.

Our Lady also told Saint Catherine, "all those who carry this Medal will receive great graces, especially by wearing it on a neck chain. Graces will flow even more abundantly to those who carry it with confidence."

Devotion to the Miraculous Medal takes on greater importance as we struggle to oppose the shocking moral decadence of our times. During the second apparition to Saint Catherine, Our Blessed Mother explained how pleased she is when people pray to her and how generous she is with them; how she gives special graces to those who ask; and what a great joy she takes in granting them.

Countless conversions and cures have been obtained by using the medal with confidence. Among them is a miracle that greatly impressed the late Father John Hardon, S.J. who once enrolled a dying boy in the usage of the Miraculous Medal. The boy had hit a tree head-on while sledding, and ended up in a coma with a fractured skull and brain damage.

As soon as Father Hardon placed the medal around his neck and said the enrollment prayers, the boy opened his eyes and began to speak. Three days later, after numerous tests, the doctors saw no traces of brain damage and the boy was released from the hospital.

Get your free miraculous medal.  Call 888-317-5571 and say "I saw it on Robert's blog."  

Remember: Nine years ago, the little Cuban boy Elian was rescued...

 

 

 

 

Nine years ago today, little Elian Gonzalez was rescued from the ocean.  Shortly thereafter, we took the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to visit him at his uncle's home in Miami. 

When he saw the statue, he said: "I saw her before.  She was with me on the ocean.  But she didn't have that thing on her head..." 

How sad it was that Elian was sent to back to Communist Cuba. 

Here are some considerations on the topic, and let us take advantage of today, Thanksgiving, to thank God for the blessings we still have in the USA...how much longer will we have them?

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Where Is Elian’s Journey Leading Us?

The steady stream of photos of a smiling Elian Gonzalez reunited with his father could well foster the impression of a happy ending to the sad story of this young Cuban refugee. Were one naive enough to believe this, one might well conclude that the entire matter was a tempest in a Miami teapot. Moreover, one would think that Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston was quite right when he said the whole thing was nothing but a circus with a simple solution: returning the boy to his father.1
With possession regarded as nine points of the law, Elian’s is a closed case for many Americans. All too soon, this family affair will be yesterday’s news. Father knows best, and Fidel – who in a candid moment described himself as the true father of all Cubans – will have won more than meets the eye for his “new look.” Cuba’s baseball team has already come to the United States to play the Orioles, and American tourists, in turn, are visiting the prison island in growing numbers. All’s well that ends well.
In this prevalent – if perverse – mindset, the valiant fight for Elian’s freedom is reduced to three elements: a nonsensical case of parental rights, an emotional group of aging anticommunist Cubans, and a government that overreacted by using armed force to solve the problem.
Is that its real meaning? Is that how we will see it when we look back years from now? Does the fact that Elian appears to be happy with his father and stepmother end the story? We’re not so sure. Before the final chapter is written and the camera lights go out, we have a few words to say.

What is the real issue? Returning a child
to his father, or dealing with Cuba’s stark reality?
Of course, if the Elian case really concerned only the father’s rights, there would have been no case – and no story to consume so much printer’s ink and radio and television airtime.
Behind the question of the father looms the larger problem of the fatherland, or rather, the unrepentant communist dictatorship. That decrepit despotism lies at the heart of the matter – and everyone knows it.
A courageous group of priests on the island recently declared that Castro’s regime shows “diabolical efficacy” in its domination of the Cuban people.2 Even the United Nations Human Rights Commission has again condemned Cuba for its human rights violations.3
There is no freedom in that island prison, where the most basic civil liberties – the freedom to practice one’s faith, to own property, to associate with friends of one’s choosing, to express one’s opinions openly, to travel in safety – are routinely denied.
Elian’s return to Cuba – forced or voluntary – cannot alter that fundamental reality. By holding on to him, the Cuban-American community was fighting to defend him from a police state whose constitution decrees that “the formation of the communist personality of youths and children” belongs, not to the parents, but to the government.4

Let justice be restored in Cuba and we will restore friendly ties
If, like Cuban-Americans, all Americans had a family member languishing in a Cuban prison (well out of sight of free-spending tourists), we would soon join the anti-Castro chorus of our Cuban-American brothers and sisters. And instead of inviting Castro’s baseball team to come and play in our cities, we would demand that Castro liberate our kinfolk before any improvement in relations. We would settle for nothing less.
If, like Cuban-Americans, all Americans had relatives subjected to the stifling oppression in Cuba, earning a pittance for their hard labors, eating whatever rations are distributed, while being forced to proclaim their allegiance to Marxist doctrine and policies, would we tolerate any cozying up to Castro?
Of course not. Rather, the American people would rise up as one to demand that the regime branded by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the “shame of our time”5 be overthrown, and that freedom, private property, free enterprise, and family life be restored.
If every American family had a relative in such demeaning and unnatural conditions, would anyone dare raise the question of loosening – much less lifting – the embargo against so cruel a regime? Obviously, no. The only acceptable option would be the total restoration of a free society under the rule of law.

We must steer clear of this “psy-war” maneuver!
A crafty maneuver of revolutionary psychological warfare is under way, seeking to exploit the good-hearted sentiments for which Americans are renowned and blind our eyes to a rabid wolf in sheep’s clothing. We are expected to accept as a legitimate ruler a blood-stained despot – the unelected “President” Castro – while closing our eyes to steps designed to normalize relations with his police state. In short, we are being asked to endorse the Neville Chamberlains of our day—or at least to look the other way at their betrayal.
Would we have agreed to cozy up to Hitler in 1944? Unthinkable!

We must not forget that to uphold the principles of freedom, America waged wars against Nazism and its evil twin, communism, sacrificing legions of her sons.

Are we not the same America? Why should we renounce our principles and convictions now? The very principles that made America great?

The American TFP does not believe our nation will so dishonor itself. Rather, we cherish an abiding hope, nurtured in faith, that we will defeat these psy-war intrigues and work to restore the sound principles of our nation’s glorious past that have made America known across the globe as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Our future – and the future of the world – depends to a great degree on our faithfulness to that heritage.
We turn our thoughts and prayers to God Almighty and to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, who watches over Cuba as its patron saint. Divine Providence saved Elian from the shark-infested waters of the Florida Straits. May Our Lady and Her Divine Son intervene soon to liberate the millions of “Elians” still groaning under the communist yoke and, above all, to keep America faithful to its noble ideals.

The American TFP
April 26, 2000

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Read more about what we did to defend Elian:

The American TFP returns to the streets to denounce Communism

Washington, D.C.

"Tradition! Family! Property!"the young men assembled beneath the towering red standard with the gold lion proclaim, their chorus rising above the din of the hustle and bustle of the downtown square. The team then disperses, each man heading to his post on a different corner. A passing businessman momentarily slows his steady pace to glance up from his newspaper at the banner billowing aloft in the breeze. A lady enjoying an ice cream cone pauses to inquire, “What is this all about?” A fair enough question — what are these young men doing anyway? For the past month, they have traveled from city to city taking part in the American TFP’s campaign to keep the plight of Elian Gonzalez before the public and to remind our fellow Americans that Communism is anything but dead in his homeland, Cuba. Such TFP caravans have visited over 60 cities to date, distributing the TFP’s statement addressing Elian’s crisis and the questions it raises.

A somewhat different message

First published in The Washington Times, The Wanderer and later in the Diario de Las Americas, “Where is Elian’s Journey Leading Us?” reminds its readers that Cuba is still ruled by a Communist dictator whose regime decrees the “formation of the communist personality of youths and children.” The statement reminds us that Communism continues to oppress millions of other “Elians” in Cuba.

Washington, D.C.

Comprised of six young TFP members, the first team set out on May 3 to spread this message — reprinted as leaflets — across the nation. Their first stop was Pittsburgh.

They unfurled their scarlet standard at noon, just in time for the lunch-hour rush. One young man held the standard, while his confreres spread out to distribute fliers. Soon, the same arguments that would be raised in other cities were heard.

“Send him back to Cuba. We’re already spending too much money on foreigners!” one angry man spat out.

“A boy belongs with his dad”

Some arguments, of course, were more kindly motivated than others. “A boy belongs with his dad, after all,” one young mother reasoned. Calmly and gently, the young man explained that, unfortunately, Elian wouldn’t be with his father in Cuba.

In accordance with the Communist constitution imposed on that island prison and Cuba’s Code on Childhood and Youth, the Red regime will remove Elian from his home when he turns seven. Elian, like all Cuban children, will be sent away for mandatory military training. During this preschool boot camp, he will be allowed to see his father only twice a week. At 12, Elian will graduate to Communist slave labor camps, where he will be lucky to see his father twice a month. Could this be why Elian’s mom — the forgotten parent — sacrificed her life in a desperate bid to free her son from Castro’s family-destroying grasp? Little wonder that one in five of her countrymen have also tried to escape Fidel’s prison state.

The journey continues

New York City

The caravan continued west, carrying its message of freedom to such Midwestern cities as Cincinnati and Chicago. Then, heading south through Kentucky and Tennessee, campaigning in several cities en route, the team arrived in Atlanta on May 11, the day a Federal appeals court heard the appeal of Elian’s Miami relatives on the plucky boy’s behalf. A TFP member was present in the courtroom to witness the historic proceeding and show support for Elian’s right to be free.

From Atlanta, the caravan once again turned west, traveling through Alabama and Mississippi, across Louisiana, and into Texas, where the team campaigned in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston. Returning to Louisiana and Alabama to conduct campaigns there, the intrepid band continued on to Florida.

A cause for all freedom-loving Americans

Knowing that Miami’s Cuban patriots were making the case for Elian’s freedom there, the caravan had naturally concentrated its complementary efforts elsewhere. But at the urging of old and new friends in Miami’s Cuban-American community, the team arrived in Miami for a three-day campaign with a special message: We are Americans and as Americans, we want to keep Elian free. Trying to save Elian — every Elian, in the United States and in Cuba — is a cause worthy of the support of all freedom-loving Americans, not just those of Cuban birth or heritage.

The Cuban-Americans we had the pleasure of meeting thanked us for our support, and their generous hearts often moved them to tears. “Tell America that we love this country!” one son of Cuba exhorted us, “The media has portraying us as a bunch of hot-headed foreigners who hate America, but that is a lie.” Promising to convey his message, it seemed clear that these anti-Communist, freedom-loving citizens are far more “American” than the liberal media that slanders them while whitewashing Castro and his cronies.

“America! America! America!”

Key West, FL

From Miami, the caravan drove to Key West. There, at the southernmost point of the United States and its closest point to Cuba, the young men prayed three Hail Mary’s for Elian and the Cuban people and shouted their challenge to Castro’s Communist regime “Tradition! Family! Property!” three times, followed by “America! America! America!”

Leaving Key West, the team headed homeward through Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, raising the standard and distributing thousands of leaflets in numerous cities en route. On June 3, the caravan reached the headquarters of the American TFP in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. In just 32 days, they had campaigned in 33 cities, passed out more than 50,000 fliers, and traveled over 9,000 miles.

“Viva Castro! Viva Ché!”

The success of the first caravan inspired a second. Its team, comprised of eight young TFP members, set out for the Northeast. In just one week, they carried the debate over the future of Elian, of Cuba, and ultimately of the United States, to eight cities, beginning with Boston, the heart of New England and of the founding colonies of our nation.

As they stood on the steps of Boston’s historic Fauneuil Hall, one gracious lady enthusiastically exclaimed, “I can’t believe men like you still exist in America!” Others seemed less pleased with the prospect. “Viva Castro! Viva Ché!” shouted one ragtag lot of young revolutionaries.

“Live free or die”

From the crowded streets of Boston, the caravan headed north to the smaller cities of rural New Hampshire, home of United States Senator Bob Smith, a stalwart defender of Elian and of freedom. The team campaigned in Concord, the state capital, in Manchester, its largest city, and in coastal Portsmouth. Before departing the Granite state, whose motto is “Live free or die,” the campaigners visited Dartmouth, one of America’s oldest universities. Then on to Albany, where the team braved fierce winds on the streets of New York’s capital before heading home to Spring Grove.

On hearing the encouraging reports of their confreres, TFP members still at the national headquarters did not wish to forgo the privilege of serving on the frontlines in this fight for freedom. Twenty of them raised four large standards in Washington, D.C., where over fifteen thousand fliers were distributed, and then in New York City.

“Justice for Elian!”

Not content with these efforts, another TFP caravan set out on June 11 to take Elian’s case across America to California and the West Coast. Whatever decision is rendered by the courts of law — perhaps even the nation’s highest — which thus far have refused to hear from Elian, we believe the cause of Elian’s freedom, for which his mother paid the highest price love could demand, deserves a fair hearing in the court of American public opinion.

History will render its own judgment, as will the Supreme Judge before Whom all men must one day stand. It is in His service that we demand, “Justice for Elian! Justice for the Cuban people! Justice for all!”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Paratrooper's Prayer

(Found by a French general in the pocket of a soldier killed in action at Dien-Bien-Phu, Vietnam)

Our Lord Scourged

Give me, O Lord my God,
what is left Thee, that which no one asks of Thee.
I do not ask Thee for rest or tranquility,
either of soul or body.

I do not ask Thee for riches,
for success, or for health.
So many ask Thee for these, my God,
that none must be left Thee.

Give me, Lord,
what is left Thee.
Give me what the others refuse.

I want risk and anguish;
I want fight and pain.
Give me these, my God,
once and for all.

Give me the certainty that these
will always be my portion, for I will not
always have the courage to ask them of Thee.

Give me, O Lord,
what is left Thee.
Give me what others do not want.

But also give me courage,
strength, and Faith.
Amen.

Pro-lifer makes pro-abortion congressman uncomfortable

Little did I know when I boarded Flight 3332 out of Kansas City, Mo., what a memorable trip it would be. As I seated myself for the three-hour flight, a screaming, hysterical little boy wearing glasses sat opposite me and used adult reasoning to explain to his mother the fear he had of air travel.

Nearby, a bearded twenty-year-old suffering from a hangover listened exasperatedly as the boy responded to the safety announcements.
“I am not supposed to be on board this plane,” he said. “It is not good for me to be scared. I don’t care about exit doors, flotation devices and oxygen masks. I want to get off this airplane!”

Unreasonable Question

Since we were making a stopover in Washington, D.C., it did not seem out of the ordinary that Congressmen Dennis Moore (D.-Kan.) and Bob Etheridge (D.-N.C.) would be on board.


Having had the chance to debate with numerous individuals on important moral issues, it has always been my desire to discuss those same issues with the lawmakers they put into office. Hence, I was overjoyed when Congressman Etheridge squeezed his six-foot frame into the seat next to me.

The ingredients were all in place for the flight of a lifetime; a screaming kid tormenting a young man vainly nursing a hangover and an outspoken defender of life sitting next to a liberal congressman. The congressman had no place to go since it was a full flight and I could not help but relish this captive audience.

Congressman Etheridge took a brief nap, but when he awoke I started a conversation, which lasted the remainder of the flight, with a simple question, “What is your position on abortion?”

“I have never had one,” he responded. It was somehow clear he was not saying, “I never had a position on abortion,” but rather, “I never had an abortion.” This became obvious when, visibly upset by my importunity, he shot a question back, “Have you [ever had an abortion]? What bothers me about such a question,” he continued, “is that it is always men who ask it and men oppose [abortion].”

Such an inappropriate remark coming from a man who should have more substantial arguments was surprising. It was a response one would not expect from an elected official who is supposed to be knowledgeable on such issues in order to vote wisely.

“I have met many more women than men who oppose abortion,” I responded, “and a lot of women who have actually had abortions only to regret it later and work to abolish such a practice.”

Inconsistency

The next stage of our discussion began with Congressman Etheridge lamenting that pro-lifers often oppose legislation that would help children born into disagreeable situations.

It was clear to me that he was pointing out the apparent inconsistency on the part of conservatives who defend life but are portrayed as being callous toward children born into poverty. This is not an uncommon argument and it has always seemed to be one meant more to confuse rather than refute the opponent.

I simply reminded the congressman that pro-lifers did not only engage in efforts to stop killing unborn babies, but they also assist desperate mothers. This translates into everything from free health care to diapers.

Since we were speaking about contradictions I could not resist reminding him of the huge inconsistency among liberals who promote abortion that kills the unborn, yet cynically push legislation meant to help children in need.
“What good is such legislation for a baby who dies by abortion?” I asked.

Since he seemed to be speechless I could not resist adding what I consider the biggest legal contradiction in the abortion debate.

“How is it that we can have abortion on demand,” I asked, “yet prosecute a man and send him to prison for double homicide when he kills a pregnant woman. Is it a blob of flesh or is it a human being?”

At that point, anger got the best of him. He pointed out that it is not every day that a person gets three hours of private time with him since he normally doesn’t take such long flights.

“But I refuse to be lobbied for the duration of this flight,” he concluded.

“That’s an unfair accusation,” I responded, “I am just an American passenger on a plane discussing important issues with an elected official.”

Stroll Down Memory Lane

Seeing that I was not likely to get a substantial response to a serious issue, I turned to a point of common ground—our Southern heritage. He grew up on a farm in North Carolina while I grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Both of us had experienced similar things such as the hard work in a tobacco field, which provoked a nostalgia we found irresistible.

Recalling my life on the farm and wondering about his life in North Carolina, I told the congressman how I would like to have known him when he was a young man. It was my last chance to remind him of a time when he would have defended the innocent.

“You should run for office,” the congressman said.
Such a suggestion, coming from an elected official, albeit on the opposite side of the political spectrum, seemed odd, even if flattering. I interpreted it as the extended hand of an ideological adversary who mistook my Southern affability for weakness.

Before the flight was over I decided to put one last shot of pepper in the pot.

“Why would you want me to enter politics?” I asked him with a smile. “If I did, I would obviously fight you tooth and nail, but always as a Southern gentleman.”

Our stroll down memory lane was ending as was our flight. The little boy across the aisle turned in our direction, providing me a glimpse of his face. His eyeglasses gave him an intelligent look, which confirmed my first impression that he was a reasonable boy.

He is embarking on a life of decisions and his rational way of being is a very useful thing to lead him down the right path. When all is said and done, I had a lot of sympathy for the little boy. He, like me, disliked air travel because of a healthy fear and argued his point rationally. It goes without saying that such a logical boy would oppose abortion.

The congressman, on the other hand, in an attempt to defend the erroneous practice, became angry and resorted to emotional and illogical arguments. He has lamentably traveled far away from his childhood dreams when he most certainly would have responded logically to the world around him.

Reflecting on the little boy and the congressman I could not help but think about what Paul Bourget once wrote, “One must live as one thinks, under pain of sooner or later ending up thinking as one has lived.”

I knew as we were landing in Washington, D.C., that I would never, in the course of a three-hour flight, change the way Congressman Etheridge thinks, but it was certainly a flight of a lifetime.

When people tell me "I'm shooting for purgatory," I get worried... Here's why:

Inevitably, at one point in your life or another, you get talking to friends about hope, goals and what each one is shooting for in terms of eternal life.

 

 

 

True Devotion to Our Lady is the key to obtaining perfection.

 

 

 

 

I've been deeply dismayed at the number of Catholics who tell me that they are not trying to be a saint, how hard it is to work on being a saint, so the next best thing is to shoot for purgatory. 

This is hard to understand.

Don't people realize that if you shoot for purgatory and miss, the only other option down the ladder is hell?

On the other hand, if you shoot for perfection and miss, you will land in purgatory.  And purgatory is bad business.  It's a very uncomfortable place. 

Horror of Venial Sin

The saints often meditated on the horrendous nature of sin, even venial sin.  These meditations helped them to avoid it.

Here are a few quotes from various saints to help us put in perspective the gravity of one venial sin.

For example, Saint Catharine of Genoa said:

"I would, if necessary, cast myself into an ocean of flames to avoid the slightest transgression, and I would rather remain there forever than come out of it by committing venial sin."

Saint Catherine of Sienna said:

"If the soul, which is immortal, could die, the sight of one venial sin defiling its beauty would suffice to cause its death."

And Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez often said:

"May I O Lord suffer all the pains of Hell rather than commit one venial sin."

Let's shoot for perfection

The logical and safest plan to follow for eternal salvation is to shoot for heaven.  Not just to "slip in", as some people say, but to shoot for the highest and fullest degree of perfection that God has intended for each one of us to reach.

In the Gospel, Our Lord says:

You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).

There are no exceptions. 

Devotion to the Blessed Mother: the key to Perfection

Some people get discouraged to shoot for perfection because they know little or nothing about true devotion to the Blessed Virgin, as taught by Saint Louis de Montfort.

They may think they need to do it all the hard work by sanctification by themselves.  In that case, yes, perfection is impossible.  But with Our lady's help, perfection is not only possible, but probable.  

The great Marian apostle Saint Louis de Montfort says:

“All our perfection, consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore, the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus” (True Devotion to Mary).

The solution, then, is to cling to Our Lady through thick and thin.  In the words of Saint Louis de Montfort:

“We fasten our souls, to Your hope, as to an abiding anchor. It is to Her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!” (True Devotion to Mary).

Way of the Cross Vandalized in Northern Spain...

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Spanish press reports, nine of 14 stations of the Cross were destroyed in Northern Spain along the traditional path of the Way of the Cross between the cities of Sangüesa and Javier.

The destruction of the Crosses is one more episode in the growing series of blasphemies and sacrileges in Spain against the Catholic Faith. 

Please offer prayers and sacrifices in reparation for these blasphemous attacks on the Way of the Cross.

Prayer
O Sorrowful Mother, in these times wherein the immense majority of men flee from the sacrifice inherent to the perfect fulfillment of all the commandments and counsels of thy Divine Son, obtain for all those who meditate on this Way of the Cross the necessary strength for each to carry his cross to the heights of Calvary.

A Meditation on the Beauty of Death...

The Prophet Daniel. 

The last words that the angel said to him were: “But go thou thy ways until the time appointed: and thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot unto the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:13)
Analyzing the angel’s words, one realizes that it is the pronouncement of Daniel’s death.

Though conquerors, wise men, all people and even lions reverenced Daniel during his life, after the angel’s words, the prophet slept the sleep of death, awaiting the General Resurrection.

These angelic words contain a great and manly majesty, peculiar to the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, a greater, supernatural majesty supplanted this natural one.  While superior, the supernatural majesty was not focused on this manliness common in the Old Testament.

However, the angel’s words are manly: “Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot unto the end of the days.” After this, everything is over and no appeal can be made, even for a man of Daniel’s greatness.  Death’s inevitability supercedes man’s capacity to intervene. In this, one senses the divine beauty of death.

It is beautiful, because it proclaims that everything in the sensible world is delicate.  It exists only with God’s intervention and through no merit of its own.   Placed before the specter of death, man senses everything in him that is small and fragile. Death whispers in his ear: “Don’t you realize that everything in life is dust and ashes?”  This is good for man, since he is accustomed to seeing his greatness compared to all other perishable things. 

There are two other Old Testament phrases that express this same idea:  “Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,” (Ecclus. 1:2) and “I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity, and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclus. 1:14)

This voice ascends above these little perishable things, to teach man that even those things that are seemingly great, are nothing.  However, there is Someone, Who hovers above all Creation, Who is a true Marvel.  He is God, Our Lord in His Eternity, Inaccessibility, Intangibility and Immutability, Who touches all things without being touched.

It is good to think about death, since it reminds man of his littleness before God.

In this spirit, the angel proclaims: “Go thou thy ways…and thou shalt rest.”  In other words: “You, who were great in the eyes of God and man, you too shall go to your end.  You too are perishable and your transitory state shall be broken tonight.  The law that all material things must end, applies to you, too.  Think of this and you will not be misled to measure Divine things by your puny grandeur. 

“You must realize that you are small before the things of God, but also that you have an immortal soul.  You have something that is not material, but imperishable.  Thus, this end you enter tonight is temporary.  In you exists the very principle of life, which is nobler than you and it shall remain.

“Moreover, your soul is good, so you will posses the happiness that things of earth cannot give.  You will sleep, but afterwards will come the reconciliation between God and man and eventually your resurrection.”

God is so good that in spite of the perishability of flesh, He will resurrect the body so that it can share in the joys or torments of the soul, according to whether the man was good or bad in this life.

At the end of his announcement, the angel states: “stand in thy lot unto the end of the days.”  This is a reference to this General Resurrection.  One begins to hear angels sounding the trumpets and coronets that will call all men to judgment.  The angel tells Daniel to sleep peacefully and wait for that day, for the death of the just is a dream that awaits the resurrection.

That is why one should always keep death before his eyes and order his life accordingly.  Then, when death approaches, he can expect a joyful resurrection on Judgment Day.  Living in this perspective will prepare him for the moment when Our Lord will appear with Our Lady at His side, to fulfill, perhaps His greatest promise: “I will be your reward exceedingly great.”

So, man will first be judged immediately at death, when his body is still warm.  Aided by Our Lady’s mercy, he will be sentenced according to his love for and union with God, not by his position in the eyes of men.  Then he shall see God face-to-face.

Man will be judged a second time, when the Son of Man will appear like a flash of light coming from the East and settle over the valley of Jehosaphat, where all men from all times will be gathered.

They will see Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Majesty, Divinity, Goodness and Mercy.  They will also see Our Lady inundated with light.  She will appear in her grandeur and sweetness that is so great, that even then, man will be unable to comprehend it.

Then, she will smile at all the elect, but particularly at those consecrated to her as slaves of love according to the method of Saint Louis de Montfort.  She will love these gratuitously without them meriting her love in any way.

Then, together with her, they will sing the Magnificat…

Monday, November 24, 2008

PLATO IN THE UNION (Taxi driver's union of Rome, that is...)

"The mediocre man has no idea that his superficiality can have profound effects."

By Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (*)

The mediocre man has some notions about many things; I mean vague and fluctuating notions which demand no effort to acquire or preserve. Whenever he wants to express his notions, he thinks he attains utter fulfillment by finding a showy word, or at least one that is not part of trivial speech.

In our milieu, the term "radical" is one of the mediocre man's favorite words. He senses that branding a foe a radical will be harmful to him. To be "radical" provokes a meticulous and exacerbated rejection. So, it is a good thing to be antiradical because it wins one much support. Thus, we can see our mediocre man quixotically displaying antiradicalism wherever he goes. But as soon as someone contends that such a fiery antiradicalism is nothing but another form of radicalism, he will shrink and change the subject, because in order to refute that objection — so obviously true by the way — the mediocre man would have to know in depth the exact meaning of the word "radical". Now, his idle spirit abhors precise and profound concepts.

Analogous to this is the mediocre man's use of the word "liberty." It reminds him right away of the hackneyed trilogy he likes (and of which he has already heard a thou­sand eulogies): "Liberty, equality, fraternity." Besides, liberty calls to mind the striking statue in the harbor of New York City, which he has seen in pictures and ads; and also a vast and densely populated neighborhood of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. In his youth he used to smoke Liber­ty cigarettes. And he has in his mind the general idea of liberty as something that provides everyone with the possibility of doing absolutely anything he finds delightful.

When he was a child, this word found its way into his mind. His teacher used to keep undisciplined students after school and have them copy endlessly sentences like "A good boy is obedient and studious." When time was up, the teacher would happily exclaim: "Liberty, liberty!" And all the brats would dart out into the street eager for foolishness and rowdiness. This was the ideological core that the word liberty left in his mind. In one way or another, the cigarette, the monument and the neighborhood celebrated that delightful thing called liberty. The trilogy seems to suggest to him the same thought the teacher had in mind when the word blossomed from his smiling lips.

The mediocre man has no idea that his superficiality can have profound effects. If someone were to tell him so, he would laugh in disbelief.

It would be an easy task for anyone to face a mediocre man. It is less easy to face hundreds or thousands of them. This, however, is the inevitable contingency awaiting whoever publishes today, because the mediocre fill the earth.

I do not believe the mediocre will be the greater part of those who will read these lines about them. It is understandable that they will not find them pleasant. But a glance at one or another topic of this article will be sufficient to infuriate many, because every man — even the mediocre one — is sharp and perspicacious when he is spoken of.

Nevertheless, I do not hesitate to declare, even before the mediocre ones, the noxiousness, the profound noxiousness of their frivolity.

Being persuaded that liberty is good, the mediocre one concludes that the more liberty there is, the better. For him, absolute liberty is total happiness. As a voter, the mediocre one will cast his ballot for the candidate who will promise him unrestricted liberty. As a candidate, the mediocre one draws the support of all of his ilk. Whence he transforms his electoral campaign into a foretaste of absolute, total and unbridled liberty. This naturally brings about, for all slates, the listing and the vic­tory of a varying though sizable percentage of mediocre ones. Hence, the diffuse impetus of legislation and government towards the foolish, the offensive and the gross. Because, when anything goes, then... That impetus also spreads from the sphere of the state to all other sectors of society.

Is all this no more than the very well known picture of today's reality? — Let the reader examine the following text:

"When a people is devoured by the thirst for liberty, it will have leaders who are ready to minister to this craving as much as the people wish, to the point of inebriation.

"If rulers then resist their subjects' ever more demanding desires, they will be called tyrants.

"It also happens that he who is orderly under his superiors is singled out as a ser­vile man without backbone.

"And that fathers, in dismay, end up treating their sons as their equals and are no longer respected by them.

"Masters dare no longer reprove their pupils, who laugh at them.

"The youth will claim the same rights and consideration given to their elders and the elders will say the youths are right, so as not to seem too severe.

"In this atmosphere of liberty there is no consideration or respect for anyone, for liberty's sake.

"Amidst so much license there springs up and develops an evil plant: tyranny."

Is this a picture of present day reality? — Certainly, the picture describes very well the stormy days we are living in. And with genial subtlety and precision it points out how the sowers of tyranny — the communists nowadays — profit from the typhoon of demo-mediocrity.

But this picture originated...long ago: in the Fourth Century before Christ. Its author is Plato, who so denounces the radicals of liberalism in a democracy, as the true fathers of dictatorship. The passage is taken from The Republic.

It fits not only the Fourth Century before Christ or today. It is perennial. It is in the very nature of things.

And I have something else to add: I did not transcribe it directly from the great philosopher's work. I limited myself to verifying that those words are truly his. They are simply extracted from the original by way of condensation (cfr. "The Dialogues of Plato," Encyclopedia Britan­nica, Inc., Chicago, London, Toronto, 1952, p.412).

A friend of mine found it framed and hung on a wall of... a union headquarters. Thus did the great and solemn Plato penetrate into a union. Not a union of rich employers, nor of scholarly professors; but rather one of... taxi drivers in Rome!

Such a fruit is not born of demagogy, but of a people's culture and tradition. And I emphasize the word "tradition."

(*) “Folha de S. Paulo”, 26th March 1983

Indian Tribalism: The Communist-Missionary Ideal in The Twenty-First Century

What's the Agenda?

A Look at a Tribal Future

In the cultural wars engulfing the nation, one often wonders what is the final long-term goal of the other side. The liberal attack on Christian civilization is so intense that there must be some kind of goal. And yet, it is very unclear as to what kind of civilization is to replace Christian civilization.

Leftist ideologues have long pointed to an ideal stateless society with total freedom and total equality. This anarchical ideal, which foresees no government at all, leads one to ask if it is a simple matter of trading civilizations. Looking at the writings of many postmodern authors, civilization itself seems to be the target.

Indeed, civilization is the target. Hierarchical models are being pulled down. Morals, effort and restraint are losing ground. In business, education, culture and so many other fields, the tribal archetype is appearing ever more frequently. Companies encourage workers to work together as a tribe. Youth get together and socialize as tribes. Even some religious worship has taken on tribal overtones. The breakdown of old structures and old morals opens the way for this transformation.

"The New Tribal Revolution is an escape route from the prison of our culture," writes Daniel Quinn in his 1999 book, Beyond Civilization, Humanity 's Next Great Adventure. He continues:

"The tribal life wasn't something humans sat down and figured out. It was the gift of natural selection, a proven success - not perfection but hard to improve on. Hierarchalism, on the other hand, has proven to be not merely imperfect but ultimately catastrophic for the earth and for us."

What is this tribal ideal that goes beyond civilization? What are its characteristics? What is the philosophy behind it? Who supports it? What exactly is the long-term goal?

These are the questions answered by this fascinating study, now published online for the first time. Indian Tribalism, the Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira is a study of these trans-civilized goals.

Set in the seventies, Prof. de Oliveira took issue with a whole school of missionary ideologues who found the primitive Indian tribalism in Brazil to be a model for all society. This same school vehemently attacked Christian civilization as a source of social evils. "We have only to learn from the Indians," claimed these missionaries as they extolled the nudity, community of goods and mysticism of the primitive tribes.

Today, the ideas of these avant-garde missionaries are approaching mainstream and Prof. de Oliveira's study shows his extraordinary foresight and takes on a new timeliness. His masterly defense of Christian civilization is a perfect antidote to those who would impose communal tribal values on what is left of Christian civilization.

For the complete text, please go here:

http://www.tfp.org/what_we_think/tribalism/tribalism_part1.html

We still long to see knights in shining armor

America has the most modern army in the world, yet millions flock to see youthful dreams of medieval jousting become reality.

Medieval Times are unique restaurants that attract almost 2,200 people a day. Since opening their first "castle" in 1983, they have entertained more than twenty-five million people at seven locations nationwide.

The moment you enter the European-style castle, it is as if you returned in time to the eleventh century. King Alfonso and Queen Inez graciously invite you to enter the breathtaking Hall of Arms, where colorful medieval banners hang from the ceiling with the coats of arms of prestigious families. Two elaborately dressed trumpeters then herald you into the Ceremonial Arena to enjoy a feast fit for a king and the main attraction, a medieval joust.

How can members of a nation with the most modern and sophisticated army in the world be interested in a style of warfare that hearkens to a time some disdainfully label the "Dark Ages?" The underlying factor involved here is a fascination Americans have for notions of honor, so well displayed in the medieval knight. This could explain the enthusiasm shown for the New York City firemen and the heroism they displayed on September 11. Those firemen, like knights of old, placed honor above everything, even life itself, and in so doing, won the adulation of a nation.

An outside observer might find the appreciation for knightly honor odd in a country that some months ago debated giving POW status to a group of dishonorable terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Such actions are par for the course in a pluralistic nation.

One knight facing another in mortal combat, with all the magnificent trappings of that epoch, is not very pluralistic, however, and this is what makes jousting in America a classic "Only in America" paradox. The warfare of terrorists lurking in the dark, waiting to attack innocent people, stands in stark contrast to the knight who throws down the gauntlet and faces his adversary in a manly way.

"Chivalry is not dead."
Randy Bernhurdt is one of the knights as well as the show manager at Medieval Times' Lyndhurst, New Jersey, castle. Also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, he showed nothing but enthusiasm for his job. "I was born way too late," he said. "I should have been born a few hundred years ago."

People of all ages come to watch Randy perform. While adults often appear in period costume, children are usually happy wielding a plastic swords. These miniature knights also write fan-mail letters to their favorite knights with such innocent questions as, "What is your horse's name?" Randy has even had children come up to him before the show with hand-drawn pictures of knights slaying dragons. "Here, I drew this for you," they say. This type of reaction is not surprising since, as Mr. Bernhardt explains, "all of us [Americans] wanted to be knights when we were kids, the stereotype knight in shining armor, battling dragons, and saving damsels in distress. We just lucked out, we got to do it."

"Chivalry is not dead," Michael Shepard chimed in. He is the head knight in Lyndhurst and admitted that it is the reaction of children to the show which makes the job worthwhile. "Their eyes just light up," he said.

Guess what the State sport of Maryland is?
Such enthusiasm for chivalry, honor, and courage, expressed so well in the medieval joust, goes far beyond a mere dinner show. We do not simply recreate another era for a group of nostalgic people. Americans take jousting very seriously.

Jousting is a popular sport in many parts of the country, and what was once simply a boyhood dream has become reality for many Americans. Matt Machtan of San Jose, California, for example, placed 3rd in the 1999 National and 2000 World Jousting Championships.

"I was the kid that fought with cardboard weapons and plastic armor on the front lawn," he said. "The Middle Ages...have always had a special draw for me. We'd invite other kids in the neighborhood and get all dressed up in whatever armor we could find or make out of grocery bags. By the end of the battle, the lawn would be littered with bits of paper. It was glorious."1 Being a fierce competitor, he even thinks jousting will one day be featured in the Olympics.

Maryland could win the Gold if that ever happens. The Terrapin State was the first to adopt jousting as the official state sport, back in 1962. It is a family affair for Marylanders whose jousting skills are frequently passed from one generation to the next. Tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times but became increasingly popular after the Civil War. Retaining the pageantry and customs of medieval tournaments, modern competitors are still called "knights" or "maids."

One such knight is on the great seal of Maryland. He is adorned in medieval armor and seated upon a charging horse.

The Freelancers professional jousting troupe
Jousting is one of the main attractions at the yearly Renaissance Fair near Baltimore.

Roy and Kate Cox are owners of the Freelancers, a professional jousting troupe that entertains crowds of over 5,000 at the fair. Like Matt Machtan, jousting for Roy Cox is serious business, and he expects nothing less from his troupe. "Don't tell me you're a jouster and then get out there and play shield tag. I joust for one reason," Cox growls; "I like to hit things."2 Roy has been doing this for years and demands a lot from his men, who have a complete training manual for knights and squires with a code of conduct and even dress codes.

Terry Whittaker, of Sarasota, with the Freelancers since last April, has been studying the Middle Ages his whole life. "The time period has always been interesting for me," he said, "because there was a certain amount of honor." The kings did not "lead men from an ivory tower," he continued. "They were out there on the battlefield."

"It is my reason for living."
One of the squires for the Freelancers is Ian Humphrey. At 14 years of age, Ian expressed desires similar to the boy Matt Machtan. Squiring is very important for him since it is the beginning of a process which will one day lead to knighthood, as it did for Matt.

"It is what I look forward to every year," Ian said, "It is my reason for living right now. I have wanted to be a knight since I could read. I studied about knights and their history, like Sir Lancelot, Arthur, and Galwain."

"The world we live in right now has forgotten history," he continued. "We need to bring that back again. That is what this [jousting] is all about. And I really want to be a part of it."

Ian does not mention his dreams to schoolmates because "they wouldn't understand. You have to be in it to understand."

What Ian does not realize is that many boys like him also dream of one day being knights.

Medieval dreams of knightly jousts are daily becoming a reality in the most modern nation on earth. Millions of Americans wait to see grown men fulfill boyhood dreams of being knights in shining armor.

Notes:
1David Templeton, "Joust Do It: a modern-day jousting pro takes on A Knights Tale,'" Northern California Bohemian, May 24-30, 2001.
2Lisa Richardson, "The Knight Life," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 28, 2001.

Is the Light of Reason Fading?

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The shocking nature of partial-birth abortion has inspired considerable indignation in sectors of public opinion that remain silent about the horror of more common methods of abortion, which claim about 4,000 innocent lives each day.

Abortion of any kind is sufficiently evil to demand our indignation. The very idea of a mother killing her own child, in her maternal cloister, should offend every human being.

Nevertheless, it was necessary to reach this infamous extreme for some people to react. How can we explain this? How can we explain the cynicism that more people are upset by the sensationalism of the means (partial-birth abortion) than by the immorality of the end (a murdered baby)?

This cynicism is the result of a twentieth century phenomenon: the fading away of the light of reason. This lumen rationis is the light of natural reason, of common sense, of the natural balance of things—something that was once the patrimony of every man.

The fading of the light of reason gives birth to a psychological state in which every contradiction, every inconsistency, and every absurdity is first tolerated, then accepted, and finally embraced.

Countless examples could be given of this degradation: The toleration of abortion as a “choice,” the acceptance of homosexuality as a “lifestyle,” and the embrace of euthanasia as “mercy” come to mind.

Insensibility to clearly established truths and contempt for traditional values are characteristic of a cynical mind. It is cynical, for example, to stand by and do nothing as the Nation’s flag, our symbol of glory, is burned in the name of freedom of expression. Likewise, it is also cynical to accept such anti-natural acts as abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality as based on human rights.

The Principle of Contradiction: Foundation of the Light of Reason


The acceptance by dominant sectors of public opinion of these aberrations, repugnant to nature itself, indicate that we are witnessing the erosion of the foundation of the light of reason: the principle of contradiction.

This principle was regarded by Saint Thomas Aquinas as the foundation of all thinking. Without it we would not be able to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil. When the principle of contradiction dies, the light of reason is extinguished.

How Can One Lose the Principle of Contradiction?

By not reacting to evil, one gets used to it. This prepares the person to accept a greater evil. Gradually, the person loses all notion of evil.

In the beginning of the process, the person says: “Contraception, no! Sexual permissiveness, yes!”

Then: “Abortion, no! Contraception, yes!”

Afterwards: “Partial-birth abortion, no! Abortion, yes!”

In this way, stone by stone, the “barrier of horror” is dismantled in people’s minds. Gradually they become accustomed to horror. When the last stone of this barrier falls, everything is licit.

Finally, they will shout: “Morality is dead; and, even, morality never existed!” Here we clearly see how the principle of contradiction is demolished.

Let’s Not Lose Sight of the Horror of Any Abortion

Many are reacting against the hideous nature of partial-birth abortion—even some who call themselves “pro-choice.” A growing number are increasingly uneasy with the radical demands of the abortionists who insist on an open season on unborn babies; something they would never tolerate for lesser endangered species.

We hope that those who take a closer look at abortion in the light of the horrors of such “near infanticide” might see the real evil of abortion, the murder of innocent life that marks every abortion.

But those whose revulsion to partial-birth abortion is simply squeamishness may well fall deeper under the spell of the Culture of Death. The grisly sight of scissors plunged into babies’ skulls may blind their eyes to abortion’s youngest victims and close their ears to the whirring of the suction machines at the corner abortion mill. When the light of reason dims, the light of truth often goes unseen.

Reviving the Principle of Contradiction

To restore the principle of contradiction we must first revive the concept of good and evil, and rebuild the barrier of horror towards evil. We ought to look back at every step of the process and develop a horror of each and every one of them.

We also want to include precious insights on this point taken from the masterful book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, by the great Catholic thinker Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.

“The notion of good and evil can be revived in various ways, including:

• Opportunely pointing out that God has the right to be obeyed and that, therefore, His commandments are true laws, which we ought to observe in the spirit of obedience and not simply because they please us.

• Emphasizing that the law of God is intrinsically good and according to the order of the universe, in which the perfection of the Creator is mirrored. For this reason, it should not only be obeyed, but loved; and evil should not only be shunned, but detested.

• Favoring social customs and laws in which uprightness is honored and wickedness suffers public sanctions.

• Insisting on the effects of Original Sin in man, his human frailty, the fruitfulness of the redemption by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the need for grace, prayer, and vigilance in order for man to persevere.”

The Triumph of Faith

If in the midst of the enveloping darkness, we guard our light of reason by observing the fundamental principle of contradiction, we will hold firm to all the truths established by God with the conviction that they are timeless.

By keeping the light of reason bright and the principle of contradiction sharp, we will defend all innocent victims from the crimes against God and man perpetrated by the Culture of Death. The skeptics may smile, but the smile of skeptics has never been able to detain the victorious advance of those who have Faith.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Jesus, Mary, Get Me There!"

The True Story of an American War Hero
by Jeremias Wells

Introduction

Colonel John W. Ripley

(Please pray for his Catholic hero-warrior soul.  He died on 11-01-08.  SEE MOVING VIDEO OF HIS FUNERAL HERE. )

When a society no longer respects and honors the fighting men willing to shed their blood for its principles, the fault lies not with the fighting men but with society itself. Ingratitude is a subtle vice, but a vice nevertheless. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that a debt of gratitude is a moral debt required by virtue. In recent decades, the American view of moral justice has been sadly lacking.

Civil society has not always been so callous. Ever since the rise of Christian culture, Christendom has held its warrior-knights in high esteem. Not only that, they were a basic, creative force that molded Western civilization, as a study of the Crusades will attest. A knight of the Middle Ages went to war in a spirit of self-immolation for the glorification of the Church or the common good of temporal society.

Through the centuries, the admiration and appreciation for the fighting man survived a series of revolutionary and philosophical setbacks that severely affected Christendom; that is, until the arrival of communism. As the latter evil gained in influence, a commensurate decline in the will to fight followed. Time and again, the communists won victories because sufficient support from the printed page and the movie and television screens had effectively disarmed the American and Western fighting spirit. Yet the Pattons and MacArthurs of the world continue to step forward, ready to face death rather than betray the ancient ideals of the warrior. The following story represents our part in honoring that crusading spirit.

Background

At the end of World War II, the United States and its allies began a series of appeasements to communism that virtually insured more armed conflict. In China a civil war broke out between the communists and the government of China under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who had been our staunch ally against the Japanese. Under the guise of unity, the United States insisted that the communists be brought into the government. When Chiang refused, George C. Marshall, initially ambassador to China, then secretary of state, cut off all aid to him despite the fact that the communists were being amply supplied by the Russians. As a result, the communists took over all of China.

This proved to be disastrous for future Pacific engagements, for the Reds now had a large reservoir of trained, well-armed men to draw upon. As a result of World War II treaties, Korea was divided between the communist North and the American-supported South. In 1950 the North Korean Army stormed over the border and was on the verge of throwing all Free World troops into the sea when General Douglas MacArthur personally took charge. In a brilliant and carefully concealed maneuver, he made a surprise amphibious landing at the port of Inchon under extremely difficult circumstances and eventually drove the North Koreans all the way to China. When the Chinese communists moved into position to counterattack, MacArthur was flatly told not to make any bombing runs against their staging areas or in any way hinder their lines of supply and communication. President Truman subsequently fired the "Old Soldier" for publicly declaring that in warfare there is no substitute for victory. His replacement was succeeded by General Mark Clark, who signed an armistice in 1953 with the original borders restored. General Clark lamented that he was the first United States Army commander in history to sign an armistice without victory.

During the early 1960s, the communists moved against South Vietnam, which was also divided between the communist North and the anticommunist South. The scenario was roughly the same. By March 1969, the United States had a troop strength in South Vietnam of 541,500. At no time did the American forces make any determined effort to destroy the enemy's capacity for making war. When Richard Nixon entered the White House in January of 1969, he was principally concerned with withdrawing American troops and getting North Vietnam to the peace table. North Vietnam was principally concerned with crushing its enemy.

In studying the peace negotiations of this period, one could easily be lulled into accepting the sophism that to save lives was worth a compromise with the communists. That may seem reasonable only when we forget the famous and oft-quoted warning of Pius XI: "We cannot contemplate without sorrow the heedlessness of those who seem to make light of these imminent dangers, and with solid indifference allow the propagation far and wide of those doctrines that seek by violence and bloodshed the destruction of all society." The enemies of Christendom never stop; they continue to forge ahead peacefully or otherwise. During the Easter Offensive in 1972, Colonel (at the time Captain) John Ripley and the Third Vietnamese Marine Battalion decided to step into the process and bar the way.

The Attack

By the Spring of 1972, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had completed its buildup and was ready to mount a largescale attack on South Vietnam. As part of the assault, two infantry divisions, 30,000 soldiers with tanks and artillery support, began to cross the boundary between the two countries and attack south along Highway 1, the main north-south artery. They would first have to seize a highway bridge over the major water obstacle, the Cua Viet River just north of the town Dong Ha. Only the Third South Vietnamese Marine Battalion was in a position to block the critical avenue of attack and buy some valuable time. To the 700-man battalion was entrusted the awesome task of stopping, or at least hindering, 30,000 North Vietnamese.

Colonel Ripley in Vietnam, 1972

The small number of remaining Americans now in ground combat were assigned to South Vietnamese units as advisers. Few men were better qualified to provide assistance in this nearly impossible assignment than Captain John Ripley of Radford, Virginia. A graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, he led a rifle company through a year of intense combat in 1967. Ripley then served an exchange tour with the British Royal Marines. After returning to U.S. forces, he graduated from both the Army's Airborne and Ranger schools and trained with the Navy's frog men in underwater demolition teams.

Having trained in four elite units, Ripley now joined one of the finest units in the Vietnamese Marine Corps, itself an elite division. Major Le Ba Binh commanded the Third Battalion and had a record every bit as impressive as his American adviser. Wounded on a dozen occasions and decorated many times, he was noted for leading his men from the front as would be expected from a member of the aristocratic warrior class.

The Third Battalion was composed of four rifle companies. Two of them and Captain Ripley spent the night before Easter Sunday at an abandoned combat base just west of Dong Ha. The NVA knew they were there, for they pounded the compound all night long with heavy artillery fire. The rounds came screaming in four or five a minute. The Vietnamese got little sleep; Ripley none.

As the day dawned with an overcast sky, Ripley went out and examined the shell craters. The artillery fire was being directed away from the camp toward Dong Ha. He called his radio man to give a report to his own headquarters. Nha, the young baby-faced Vietnamese, approached with long-range whip antenna waving back and forth. In the months they had fought together, the two had become inseparable. Neither knew the other' s language well, but facial expressions and a common danger made words unnecessary. By that time Nha could read Ripley's mind.

Ripley grabbed the handset. Headquarters relayed the orders, "Fall back on Dong Ha and defend the bridge. I'll give you more information when I can." Binh's bodyguard, a powerfully built, rough individual who was known as "Three-fingered Jack," appeared and told Ripley that Binh wanted him at his command post. Jack was one of those quiet, alert veterans that command respect, a fearful enemy and a welcome ally.

Binh had decided to deploy the two immediately available companies along the south bank of the Cua Viet River. One company would cover the main bridge used by the north-south traffic along Highway 1. It had been built by the Sea Bees five years earlier to carry the heaviest American weapons and equipment, including tanks. The other company would cover a much older bridge just upstream that could only carry light equipment. Binh told his Marines to dig their holes deep. There would be no fall back positions. They had to hold the riverbank.

The two companies formed a column with Binh and Ripley leading the way and headed for the bridge. Another radio message warned, "No time for questions, expect enemy tanks. Out." When they reached Highway 9, which ran along the south riverbank and intersected with Highway 1 at Dong Ha, it was clogged with thousands of refugees and, what was worse, deserters by the hundreds. All of them had only one thought in mind: to get as far away as quickly as possible.

Binh's radio contact informed him that the rest of his battalion plus a regular Army of The Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) tank battalion of about 40 tanks would rendezvous with them one mile west of the town. The medium tanks would be somewhat outgunned by the heavier Soviet T-54s, but they were certainly better than no tank support at all. The tank battalion commander, an ARVN lieutenant colonel, was waiting at the rendezvous point with his American adviser, Major James Smock. The former was less than enthusiastic about staying around and required constant urging to cooperate.

Nha approached Ripley. It was headquarters again: "Our outposts can hear the tanks coming. They are traveling in the scrub terrain just off the roadway, but sooner or later they are going to have to get back on Highway 1 to cross the bridge."

"Don't we have any air up, to tell how many?" Ripley asked.

"None yet. Low ceiling."

"Come on. We must have a thousand feet here."

"Believe me, pal, we are doing all we can. Every fire base up there is catching it and some have gone under. You have to hold the bridge and you have to do it alone. There is nothing here to back you up with."

Ripley's American adviser contact continued to give him bad news. Practically all resistance north of the bridge had been wiped out, which was probably the source of the ARVN deserters clogging the road along with the refugees. Then came the final blow: "We finally got a spotter plane in the air. They have tanks and armored personnel carriers stretched along Highway 1 for miles. Must be at least two hundred."

Ripley shouted back, "We can't stop that many. We have to blow the bridge at Dong Ha." At first his superior on the radio hesitated. The top brass back in Saigon wanted to save the bridge. In the end, Ripley's logic prevailed. A weary voice responded: "You are right. We can't authorize it, but you have to blow that bridge. Get moving that way and we will send some demo up to you."

As they approached Dong Ha, they saw the results of the destructive firepower of the enemy's heavy artillery. Corpses lay dismembered and forgotten along the roadside. Dead livestock and overturned carts were strewn in all directions. Then the artillery started again, countless guns firing together and shells exploding all over the town but only the town. It was being blasted off the map. Everything came to a halt along the highway.

The tank column could not go forward and it could not stay where it was. They backed off to the west and swung around to the southeast and entered what was left of the town from the south. The shelling alternately intensified and then thinned out. At the outskirts, the tank commander refused to go any further but after more arguments agreed to let two tanks accompany the dynamiters. As a parting remark, Binh told Ripley to send a message to his superiors: "There are Vietnamese Marines in Dong Ha. We will fight in Dong Ha. We will die in Dong Ha. As long as one Marine draws a breath of life, Dong Ha will belong to us." A hundred yards from the south end of the bridge, Ripley, Smock and Nha prepared to go on alone.

Colonel Ripley under the bridge (Detail of a diorama at the U.S. Naval Adademy, Annapolis)

The Bridge

Captain Ripley studied the bridge through his binoculars. It was built simply but massively. The bridge's basic strength lay in its steel I-beam girders that held up the superstructure. They ran longitudinally, that is, in the direction that the traffic would flow. Each girder stood three feet high, and the flanges extended three to four inches on either side of the vertical member. There were six of them across with about three feet between them. With all that steel, Ripley thought to himself, the Sea Bees could have built a battleship.

These hundred-foot long girders sat on top of massive, steel-reinforced concrete piers (intermediate supports) that rose 20 or 30 feet out of the river. At both sides of the river, the hundred-foot spans connected with the abutments (end supports). In thickness, the piers ran between five and six feet. They would easily have withstood any explosive power then available. The trick was to set the explosives in such a way as to knock one set of girders off the piers, thus dropping a hundred-foot span into the river - no small task but possible by a soldier with the proper training. Fortunately, Captain Ripley had received the necessary training at Ranger School.

Ripley surveyed the scene directly in front of him. Along the near river bank, two companies of Binh's Marines were dug in. Across the river on the north side, there had to be thousands of NVA troops infesting the area. Halfway down his slope, sat a bunker built up with sand bags left over from some previous battle.

The three stood up and made a dash for the bunker. As they ran, the fire from the north side increased in intensity and accuracy. They dove for the bunker just in time. Several shots thudded into the sand bags right in front of them. Ripley decided to leave Nha here, where he could make reports to headquarters just as easily, and not expose him to any more danger than necessary.

The girders of the Dong Ha bridge were three feet high and about three feet apart.

He then attracted the attention of a squad leader at the river bank. Through sign language, he asked him to provide cover for the last leg of the journey to the bridge abutment. In a short period of time, Binh's Marines had a steady base of fire hitting NVA positions on the north bank.

The two officers broke from cover and ran straight for the bridge. Again the fire increased as they neared their objective. A heavy, tank machine gun kicked a spray of dirt in front of them. Ripley drove himself harder and harder. When he safely reached the bridge abutment, he almost collapsed from the exertion. He wondered how much longer he would have to keep going.

The Demolition

The explosives were waiting for them, about a dozen pine boxes and an equal number of canvas haversacks. Ripley read the stencil on the three-foot boxes: DEMOLITION-TNT. Each box contained 150 blocks that looked like gray industrial soap. The haversacks contained plastic explosives to be used in conjunction with the TNT.

Ripley decided to cut the girders loose at the first pier, a hundred feet from the abutment. His problems began immediately. The Sea Bees, to prevent sabotage to the under section of the bridge had constructed a chain-link fence on the river side of the abutment topped with three coils of razor wire. Ripley had to crawl over the razor wire.

He chose to work on the downstream side of the bridge. Most of the infantrymen on both banks had dug in upstream, where they had more open space. The Marine captain climbed the fence and grabbed the bottom flanges of the I-beam. He then swung his feet up and hooked his feet on the flange.

He began to inch himself along the beam. His legs took a beating. The razor wire sliced numerous cuts into his legs which bled profusely. Through the wire he went. He was sweating heavily. The sweat rolled into his cuts and they began to burn. At last, he was through the wire.

With 90 feet to go, Ripley let his feet drop free and proceeded by hand-walking down the girder, swinging forward hand to hand. Arriving at the pier, he made an attempt to catapult himself up into the space between the outboard girder and the next one upstream. His legs would not cooperate. His energy was gone. Hanging only from his hands, they began to ache. Either he flipped up between the two beams soon or he would fall into the river. Once again; he almost made it that time. On the third try the heels caught the flanges. Then he twisted around until his body was spread-eagled between the two beams. He set the two haversacks of satchel charges and crawled on his elbows and knees back to Major Smock and the fence.

The major passed the first two boxes of TNT and two more haversacks through the razor wire, which cut the major's hands and arms. Spread-eagled between the two girders, Ripley placed the boxes on the flanges and dragged the load, which weighed more than 180 pounds, back to the pier, where he set the charges to the first boxes of explosives.

Once more he dropped down, holding onto the bottom flanges with only his hands. Swing back and forth, build momentum, leap, grab, catch the heels and then muscle into the channel opening between the next two girders. When his legs and lower body fell below the beams, the communist riflemen fired up into the steel girders, with rounds ricocheting all over. Nothing hit him. Once up into the channel he was safe.

For the next two hours, Ripley worked his way back and forth setting the charges. When he finished, he crawled back through the razor wire, dropped to the ground and lay there for a while gasping for breath. Yet he had only accomplished the first part of the heroic undertaking. The exhausted Marine had to go out there again and set the detonators.

Ripley would have preferred to use electrical blasting caps and wire, but none were to be found, only the old-fashioned percussion caps and primer cord. To make things more difficult, they could not find any crimpers. Ripley had to crimp the caps onto the cord with his teeth. Since the shiny cylinders would explode if gripped too hard in the wrong place, a slight miscalculation would blow his skull apart. He remembered that back in Ranger School an instructor had placed a detonator inside a softball and set it off. The explosion blew the cover, stuffing and string all over the place.

Carefully he placed the cap into his mouth, open end out and put the primer cord in the open end. He slowly bit down. It worked. The second time would be easier, but he had to fight off overconfidence, so he remembered the softball. Now the Marine captain was ready to go back out again.

This time the enemy was waiting for him. He crawled through the razor wire and dropped below the girder. The communists immediately opened fire, far heavier than before with hundreds of rounds bouncing off the girders. Over and over, he prayed to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, "Jesus and Mary, get me there! Jesus and Mary, get me there..."

Just as he reached the upstream box of TNT, a tank shell hit the girder about two feet away. The angle was too flat and it bounced off and exploded on the south bank with a violent crash. The vibrations almost knocked him into the river. He set the detonator into the plastic explosive and lit the other end of the cord with a match. He had measured enough cord to allow about thirty minutes.

The girders of the Dong Ha bridge were three feet high and about three feet apart.

Ripley worked his way over to the downstream side and repeated the process and then hand-walked back to the fence. He realized that he had exceeded all normal human endurance, so again turned to God and His Mother: "Jesus and Mary, get me there! Jesus and Mary, get me there..." He climbed back through the razor wire once more and fell to the ground near the abutment in a bloody heap. He was so tired that he could hardly lift his arm.

The major tapped him on the back. "Look what I found. But you won't need them now." He pointed to a box of electrical detonators. Ripley looked at the caps and realized that he had to go through the ordeal under the bridge once again. He had always been taught to rig up a backup charge if one was available, At this point, the substance of a man takes over. His moral integrity triumphs. In fact, throughout the entire ordeal, it was the guiding principle. So he returned again simply because to do the job right demanded it.

While Ripley was again risking his life crawling around underneath the Dong Ha Bridge setting up the backup charges, Smock ran a couple of boxes of TNT down to the smaller bridge and ran back again. Ripley had completed the wiring and lay on the ground next to the abutment, too tired to move. Painfully, he pulled himself up and, with a roll of detonating wire hung over his shoulder, staggered along with Smock back to the bunker where Nha was waiting. The South Vietnamese Marines unleashed a barrage of fire to cover them, yelling encouragement as they went, "Dau-uy Dien! Dau- uy Dien!" (Captain Crazy! Captain Crazy!)

At the bunker Ripley was glad to be reunited with Nha. He looked around for a way to trigger the explosion since they had no blasting box. Nearby was a burned-out truck, but the battery appeared to be in good condition. Ripley tried several combinations to set off the explosives. Nothing worked. The terrible thought of failure came over him.

The captain would have to warn headquarters to give time to others to regroup farther south. He would stay with the Third Marine Battalion. Binh would never pull back. He had already made that clear. The battle-scarred warrior would die at his post with no forethought of death. From across the river, Ripley heard the tanks starting up. The massive assault was ready to begin.

Then the bridge blew. The shock waves came before the noise. The noise arrived, growing louder and louder in a series of explosions that became one huge roar. The entire hundred- foot span dropped into the river, leaving a huge gap in the bridge. The time fuses had done their job after all.

The Aftermath

The battle continued to rage around Dong Ha for days after, but the overwhelming forces of the NVA soon began to wear out the defenders. Most areas in the north and south had crumbled. A large group of communists were pressing down on Dong Ha from the west. Binh's Marines were still dug in and holding, with some of Smock's tanks and armored personnel carriers lending support. Ripley was making desperate calls for artillery support when a barrage of mortar fire raked the area, signaling an all-out attack.

At that moment, a vehicle carrying seven journalists and cameramen raced up. Completely oblivious to what was going on, they jumped out and surrounded Captain Ripley with microphones, asking one silly question after another. Ripley yelled at them, "Get out of here; the NVA are attacking." A mortar round exploded, throwing all of them into a pile on the ground. Ripley crawled out from underneath the bodies. Some were dead; others lay groaning and bleeding.

He looked around; then his heart fell. Nha lay dead with a mortar fragment in his head. Major Smock was severely wounded. All the South Vietnamese vehicles were pulling out. Ripley was able to pile the wounded on them only with difficulty. Nobody was staying around now.

When he went to load Nha's body on the last tank, it moved away and disappeared. The beleaguered captain looked up and saw the point men of several NVA rifle squads approaching. He was going to die, but he was taking his dead radio man with him. He put Nha's body over his shoulders and started walking, fully expecting to catch a bullet any minute.

He heard rifle fire and looked up. Three-fingered Jack and another Marine were firing away at his assailants. More South Vietnamese Marines came over the embankment directly in front of him and kept the enemy pinned down until he climbed up behind them. Captain Ripley was safe.

A few days later the Third Marine Battalion received orders to break through the encircling enemy and a few weeks after that it was pulled out of action. Of the original 700 men, only 52 survived. By then Smock, Nha and Jack were dead. However, they had succeeded magnificently in their task.

The ARVN regrouped and held a defensive line ten miles south of Dong Ha. Thus the Easter Offensive was stopped because the NVA failed to cross the bridge at Dong Ha. One cannot but wonder that, if a few more men like Captain Ripley, Major Binh, Major Smock, Three-fingered Jack and Nha, the radio man, had dedicated themselves like the Crusaders of old, the communists could have been stopped entirely. As it was, they were stopped for three years.

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