Friday, July 31, 2009

The Allure of Lourdes

by John Horvat

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As I sat down in the train for the final leg of my trip to Lourdes, I could not help but reflect that this was a trip repeated so many times by tens of millions of pilgrims from all over the world over the last 150 years. They had made this same trip. They have embarked with similar expectations. Upon writing down my impressions, I was tempted to think that my account would be of little value, since my story has already been told so many times before.

However, although it is the same story, I have no doubt each trip is different. Part of the allure of Lourdes lies exactly in the fact that each experiences it differently. Lourdes draws each one to go on the pilgrim's route. Everyone takes different problems and misery and is filled with different expectations.

Mine was a simple four-day pilgrimage-retreat without Internet, cell phone, camera or even air-conditioning. My expectations were also simple. I sought peace of soul in a world that so aggressively disrupts that peace. I sought time to reflect and recollect. I expected to be cleansed of so much. I just wanted time to pray to Our Lady and ask her for all that I need.

A Place of Violent Contrast

My first impression of Lourdes was that it is a place of dramatic contrast, born of violence and extremes. I found it unexpectedly dramatic. The rocky foothills of the Pyrenees are filled with abrupt cliffs, mysterious caves and scraggly brush. The River Gave rapidly flows with violent intensity. While praying at the Grotto, it was not uncommon to feel sudden gusts of strong winds that added to the sense that something different and important was happening there. The intensely hot sun of the July summer day contrasted with the chilly night mountain air. 

This contrast is above all present at the Grotto. The Grotto lies inside a huge rock hill near the river. I had always thought the Grotto was separate from the basilica church. However, the huge Gothic sanctuary sits right on top of this massive rock and its stone foundations dig like talons into the rock, dominating and forcing itself upon the wild landscape. However, the Grotto still retains that exuberant wildness that it must have had at the time of the apparitions. The outside of the Grotto is covered with that untamed scrub brush and wild grass that tenaciously clings to fissures in the rock.

Almost as dramatic as the landscape is the violent contrast of the pilgrims. They come from all over the world and speak in many languages. But the most notable contrast is the extreme cultural clashes that one sees between genuine signs of devotion and faith and the most glaring signs of our fragmented postmodernity found in the modern fashions and cultural rock and other icons that are found on the Che-Guevara type shirts and caps of the pilgrims. You cannot help but feel it is the affliction caused by this internal cultural war inside souls that brings many of the pilgrims to Lourdes. 

All of this is a fitting stage for the drama that takes place inside souls at Lourdes. You pray in the context of this dramatic setting.

The Heart of Lourdes

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The heart of Lourdes is the Grotto. All over the city, the signs point to la Grotte as it is the city's point of reference. In front of the Grotto, I spent hours praying in front of a life-sized statue of Our Lady that stands some fifteen feet above in a large cavity inside the Grotto.

The activities around the Grotto are impressive. It is the site of Masses, adorations and recitations of the rosary. There are times when you can kneel very close to the statue of Our Lady. There are other times when you must stand back because of the crowds. At night, a tree of large candles illuminates the area and creates an atmosphere of recollection and devotion.

There is a constant flow of people who enter the Grotto and pass by its walls. Deep inside there is the spring of water from which so many cures and benefits have flowed. All enter the Grotto touching the walls of the cavern, now worn smooth by so much touching. Pilgrims touch the walls, bless themselves with the small streamlets of water that flow from little fissures. They put their foreheads on the rock walls. They leave prayer requests, candles and flowers. They ask, pray and beseech Our Lady's help. Some leave emotional; others merely curious. However, I noticed that everyone leaves the Grotto serious - no one is joking.

Broken Humanity

Lourdes belongs to broken humanity. It is full of the sick and troubled who go there with their impossible cases.
It is especially the physically sick and handicapped that can be seen everywhere in an impressive display of human ailments of all kinds. The most impossible cases are especially represented and they are cared for with touching solicitude. Tens of thousands of volunteers look after their every need and one sees legions of volunteer ladies who assume temporary white habits or other garb to help these "least of our brothers."

Here the handicapped are given charity wholeheartedly. Here, they accept this charity with all humility and gratitude. They are sick and they show no shame in their weak condition which will, in the final analysis, be that of all men. Parades of antique three-wheeled wheelchairs can be seen at all events - rosary processions, Eucharistic adorations and Grotto visits. Many have received cures at Lourdes; others have simply received the means to deal with their sufferings. All receive special care.

There are, of course, the others who go with maladies of a different kind. These are those with spiritual sufferings. Each brings his own crosses and miseries. And I count myself as one of these pilgrims. One is not necessarily relieved of one's miseries, but you feel as if a balm has been applied that makes it so much more bearable. You leave less broken.

The Nightly Rosary Procession

The rosary procession is the climax of the day. Every night at nine o'clock, the faithful gather around the basilica for the simple ceremony of praying the rosary. However, this is no ordinary procession. I witnessed what I estimated to be ninety thousand pilgrims on the central plaza at the Saturday night procession I attended.

Every night as you proceed to the shrine, you notice the shopkeepers have put out the procession candles with their paper lantern shades. For a pittance, you buy a candle and head for the procession. There is an atmosphere of exaltation and even triumph that I think comes from a joy in being Catholic - a true unity amid diversity. Although the Hail Marys are said in various languages, all the other prayers are said or sung in the universal Latin - without any problem or confusion.

A large life-size statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is majestically carried on a litter down the central plaza and the procession begins. Thousands and thousands of Catholics join in. Hundreds of sick in wheelchairs are pushed and pulled by volunteers along the procession route - the special guests of the affair. As night descends, the candlelight lanterns create a marvelous and prayerful ambience.

The procession covers the length of the entire central avenue of the sanctuary. After each decade, a Marian hymn is sung. "Immaculate Mary" is a favorite hymn since it is sung in so many languages. During the refrain, all in the crowd raise their candle lanterns in triumph and praise of the Blessed Mother, a practice which they repeat in the final "Salve Regina." The basilica has two large esplanades that are like arms enclosing the grand plaza. During the procession these arms are also full of people praying and singing creating the impression of a huge amphitheater of unity. Finally the procession is over, and gradually the huge crowd disperses into the night.

A Lady of Passionate Solicitude

And what is to be said of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes? How does she express and communicate herself to the faithful? Such opinions by necessity are subjective since Our Lady speaks to souls in different ways. I can only report what I sensed at the Grotto

The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is in my opinion very French. She does not have the Latin exuberance of Spanish or Italian Madonnas. She stands in the Grotto, discretely looking upward and measuring her gestures. However, this does not prevent her from giving impressions of great mercy and goodness. Her goodness reminded me of the French merchants and pedestrians I approached with my broken French in the village. They would address you with a very courteous "Bonjour Monsieur" and then go out of their way to help you with your problem.

Our Lady's goodness at Lourdes has something of that same polite and intense goodness full of respect for the person despite his weaknesses. I felt dignified by my dialogue with Our Lady. Inside this enormous respect, she exhibited for me a kind of passionate and maternal solicitude that I had never experienced before.

It was with great sadness that I left Lourdes and the Grotto on that Sunday morning to catch my train. I bid my farewell and slowly left, turning back several times until that last glimpse and final au revoir, a scene that remains in my mind's eye.

A Change and a Promise

On the train back, I reflected a bit on the pilgrimage. Indeed, it was so like the millions of others that traveled the same route. However, it confirmed my idea that each pilgrimage is different and that this is the allure of Lourdes.

Did I find what I sought? I received no great miracle but then again, I did not ask for one. However, I found at the Grotto a maternal gaze, a place where one can go to be heard. I found a place that violently clashes with our modern revolutionary world. Our Lady makes no compromises with the sins of our days but she calls the poor faithful as they are, and beckons them to return to the practice of the Faith.

I returned changed in ways hard to define. I definitely felt peace in my soul. Lourdes puts your soul in order. It has a cleansing effect upon you. I sensed a promise not on the part of Our Lady to me, but rather she elicited from me a promise to return.

My sentiments are those expressed by an antiphon from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is sung at Vespers that says: Trahe nos Virgo immaculata, post te curremus in odorem unguentuorum tuorum. In English the prayer reads: Draw us, O Immaculate Virgin, we will run after thee because of the savour of thy good ointments.

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(Lourdes Basilika Source: Milorad Pavlek 2005 {{GFDL}} Category:Hl.Bernadette\)

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Description: Blessed Virgin of Lourdes
Place: Lourdes (Grotte de Massabielle)
Country: France
Photographer: © Manuel González Olaechea y Franco
Shot date : May 1st, 2005

Lisbon: The Nation Devouring Hydra

by Michael Whitcraft

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On July 15, The Irish Times published an opinion piece written by Green Party senator and spokeswoman, Déirdre de Búrca titled: "Lisbon Yes will make EU fit for global challenges."  In it, she argues that the Lisbon Treaty is essential to empower the European Union so it can act effectively on the global scene. 

Her opinion was ratified by the Greens on July 18, when the party voted to officially endorse Lisbon.  After the vote, party president John Gormley said the Greens would support the treaty "vigorously." 

While the Green Party does not speak for the Irish public, Senator Búrca's article warrants a closer look since the arguments it contains are likely to resurface during the build up to the October vote when Ireland will again be asked to ratify the treaty it rejected last year. 

A Nation-Devouring Hydra?

The senator reveals the crux of her argumentation in favor of Lisbon in her article's last paragraph, which states:

My support for the Lisbon Treaty is born out of a recognition that unless we as European citizens empower the Union to represent us internationally, to act as a broadly progressive force at a global level, we stand little chance of being able to positively influence and shape the rapidly changing world around us, or to tackle the very serious global challenges that confront us.[1]
However, this paragraph also reveals the main flaw in her reasoning.  She insists that EU empowerment will increase Irish representation on the international scene.  While there is little doubt that empowering Europe will give the EU more global weight, its effect on individuals swallowed up by so-called "European citizenship" will likely be to grant them less, and not more, say in issues that most affect them.
This principle is easily grasped by comparing the lot of an employee at a small business and a mega corporation.  While the small business, by itself, may have little effect on the national economy, when bought out by a mega corporation, individual employees are certain to be denied any say in corporate decisions and thus lose what voice they may have had.
Likewise, any attempt to join national forces against global threats must first ensure that national individuality is maintained, not diluted.  This was well expressed by the great Catholic thinker, Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.  In 1952, he wrote an article expressing concerns over a future European confederation that would level the continent of its national characteristics.  In it he stated:
Each nation can and should remain alive and defined, within the supranational structure.  It must maintain its limits, territory, government, language, customs and law.  It must keep its own national character... [opposing this reality] is certainly not acting according to the designs of God, Who created a natural order, in which the nation is an indestructible reality...[any international body] should be the protector of national independence, not a nation-devouring hydra.[2]
Professor de Oliveira's thought is entirely opposed to that of Senator Búrca, who claimed: "The EU represents a 'higher-order' political system, where nation states have chosen to pool some of their sovereignty in order to be better equipped to respond to these international challenges."[3] Her idea of "pooling sovereignty," in fact, would water it down to the point of insignificance.  It would strip Ireland of its voice entirely.
She also argues that Europeans must "empower" the union so that it can "play a more constructive and effective role on the international stage."  This would prevent the G8 from being replaced with a G2 in which "China and the US" would "carve the world up between them."
However, if Ireland and other European countries are worried about losing sovereignty to US and Chinese hegemony, why should they wilfully surrender that same sovereignty to the EU?  It just does not make sense.
Forcing Abortion
Senator Búrca espouses another false notion, when she states: 
...the Irish Government has secured a series of legal guarantees on Lisbon. These guarantees fully protect Ireland's national autonomy in a number of sensitive policy areas...The guarantees are legally binding, and will be attached to the EU treaties by means of a protocol in the near future.
Certainly, the "sensitive policy areas" she references are abortion and other life issues.  In fact, 58% of those who voted "no" in the Lisbon Treaty's first round opined that the treaty would make abortion more likely, whereas only 28% disagreed.  Furthermore, a full 74% of those believing a "yes" vote would make abortion more likely voted "no."[4]
However, the "guarantees" that Senator Búrca mentions do not guarantee anything.  Even if the protocol to which she refers becomes a reality, any prohibition of abortion would directly conflict with the EU's Charter of Rights that is attached to Lisbon. 
Thus, at any time, the European Court of Justice could invoke this Charter and impose abortion on the nation.  In short, as Cóir spokesman Richard Greene stated, "...the matter will still be in the hands of the European Court of Justice, not the Irish people...So we're left with the same bad treaty that was rejected by the Irish people last year."[5]
Does No Mean No?
Senator Búrca also claims that Ireland will be able to protect its sovereignty by use of a "national veto."  However, the events of the last several years have proven that when Europe wants something, it will not take no for an answer.  Could not the first vote on Lisbon be compared to a veto?  And before that, did not France reject the EU constitution, which was fundamentally the same document as the Lisbon Treaty?
Suspicions must be raised that any "national veto" used by Ireland would be subject to the same vote-until-you-get-it-right mentality.
Thus, Ireland must send a message to the EU that: "No means no!" or risk being subjected to the same bully tactics in the future.  It must protect its sovereignty against the nation-devouring hydra that the EU threatens to become.
Irish sovereignty was purchased at too high a price to do otherwise.


[1] http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0715/1224250692873.html
[2] Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Catolicismo, February 1952. (Translation ours)
[3] http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0715/1224250692873.html
[4] These statistics are taken from a LifesiteNews.com article found at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jun/08062712.html
[5] http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0714/1224250637985.html

Last Updated on Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"If They Weren't Wanted, Keep Quiet."

Today I read a section of the local newspaper that I rarely read due to its content, Dear Abby.  Today, however the title caught my eye, "If They Weren't Wanted, Keep Quiet."  I asked myself, what is this about?

It is about a mother who wants to tell her teenage daughter that her mother did not want for her to be born.  What a horror.  Imagine a mother wanting to tell her child that she was not wanted.  All of the readers who had their comments printed also found this to be shocking.

When one wonders about the cheapness of life and the lack of morality in our society, this article demonstrates what could be a large factor.  The lack of reverence for human life and the failure to accept a child as a gift from God tears and destroys the underlying fabric of society. 

A child can recover from all sorts of difficulties in life, but a horror that would be extremely difficult to overcome without grace, would be to find out that one was not wanted by their mother.

As the great pro-life leader, Joe Scheidler has commented, all of the people born in this country since Roe v. Wade are survivors and they know it.  Each and every person born since that day of infamy, could have been aborted had their parents chosen to commit the heinous act.

I propose that every normal, upright and happy person in our society came from parents who lovingly welcomed them into the world, either as their own child or through adoption.

Of course with God's grace a person born into a troubled home can overcome that handicap, but it is very difficult.  No one born into an unloving or troubled home would wish that for themselves or for anyone else.

The Catholic Church is the institution that truly defends reverence for life.  Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament, which means that a husband and wife living according to the commandments of God in Holy Matrimony receive Sanctifying Grace which passes to their children.

The Church teaches that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation, or bringing children into the world with which to populate heaven.  All Catholics living according to the Church's moral teachings accept children as a blessing from God.  Every child born into such a family, knows that they were wanted.  Those who contracept or abort, selfishly set their own conditions as to when they will accept children from God.  As the child ages and matures he will always wonder if he was really welcomed or if he was just an accident, or a contraceptive failure.

Those of us who were born into a truly loving family, should thank Our Lord and Our Lady each and every day for that.  All of the trials and crosses in life become bearable when one is raised with a well formed soul and personality that comes from the grace of God and a good family. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Washington Advocates Hand in 138,000 Signatures for Marriage Referendum

by Kathleen Gilbert

OLYMPIA, WA, July 28, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-family advocates in Washington say they have gathered 138,000 signatures in support of Referendum 71, a pro-natural marriage referendum. The signatures were handed in to the Secretary of State at the deadline last Saturday. 120,577 signatures were required to put R-71 on the November ballot. 

The referendum would allow voters to decide whether to elevate homosexual partnerships to the level of marriage.  If the state verifies enough of the signatures, it will put on hold recently-passed legislation that gives registered heterosexual and homosexual domestic partners the same benefits as married spouses. 

The Secretary of State's office this week said that the numbers were too close to call, as a significant percentage of signatures are usually found to be invalid.  Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons called the final tally within the "iffy range."

A final tally is expected to be announced within one to two weeks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 29, Feast day of Urban II: the Blessed and Intrepid Crusader Pope

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This is a picture of the Council of Clermont, where Pope Blessed Urban II preached the First Crusade.

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On July 29, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Urban II, the Pope who is most known for convoking the First Crusade in 1095 at the Council of Clermont.

His austere demeanor, Catholic zeal and fiery words convinced the French knights to go on a Crusade. 

Here is what the Pope told the knights: 

I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.[1]

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(Picture of a monument dedicated to Godfrey of Bouillon, the French noble who led the first Crusade to victory.)

Let us pray to Pope Urban II that he inspire today's Catholics with a crusading spirit in the spiritual battle against the terrible sins that have infected every aspect of our culture.

Pope Blessed Urban II -- pray for us!

Amazing Video of Eucharistic Miracle in Argentina

Please watch the entire video.

It shows that the Eucharist is Our Lord.   It's scientific! 

This is why ANF-TFP always protest videos on YouTube that show Eucharistic desecrations and also why we promote acts of public reparation against the blasphemies perpetrated against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Report from the Saint Joseph Terror of Demons Caravan

by Norman Fulkerson

"Finally someone has common sense."
There was a "gay" pride parade last weekend here in town. I can't imagine how the public accepted that because the response from the general public today was overwhelmingly positive.

A police officer stopped early in the campaign and seemed very favorable. He gave his cell phone number and told us to call him if we had any trouble. Several other police cruisers honked when passing through our intersection.

One lady passed and said "Finally someone has common sense."

She took a flier and added "they are going to know [what is right] when they meet the Lord." A little while later another lady crossed the same sidewalk and simulated a honk. She then turned to the intersection and shouted to the drivers of the cars, "Honk your horns, honk your horns!"

Pedestrians simulating horns is not an uncommon thing in these campaigns, but we had one today that was the most amusing I have seen so far. It was from a very picturesque black lady wearing a bright orange shirt. She stopped on the opposite side walk, looked over the campaign, and began jumping up and down yelling "Honk!" She was so loud she could be heard on all four corners of the intersection. She then walked across the street with a big smile on her face, jumping up and down and waving at us in support as she continued to honk her imaginary horn.

"You are gaining many blessings... "and a crown in heaven."

A Puerto Rican took a flier and I wanted to make sure she understood what we were doing so I explained that we are defending traditional marriage. She pointed to the happy newlyweds on the cover of our flier and said, "Marriage is between one man and one woman. It's not between one man and one man. That's nasty."

Moments later a very sympathetic black lady passed. "Keep on doing what you are doing, you are gaining many blessings." She then pointed to the sky and added "you are gaining many crowns and they [who practice homosexuality] are going to get AIDS."

A man took the flier after I said "defend traditional marriage". He responded, "I believe in traditional marriage, it's in the Good Book." Right after he passed a women hesitated before taking a flier and asked, "is that for marriage". After I responded that it was she said, "but is that traditional marriage" to which I again responded yes. She then smilingly took the flier and said, "I am honking."
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Counter Protesters, Spittle and an Unjustified Parking Ticket

Towards the end of the campaign a group of 7 or 8 young people came and began screaming slogans on the opposite corner to ours. Mr. Charles Sulzen had stopped playing his bagpipes at that point but quickly started anew. Right as he began one of the girls attempted to scream but was drowned out by the instrument.

Two squad cars came immediately and the officers spoke with them for a long time. We were about to close up campaign when, to our surprise, the whole group crossed the street right in front of the police officers and stood right in front of our campaign and began provoking our people. As is our custom we said nothing in response but I motioned for the police officers on the opposite street corners to do something about their provocative presence.

The officers finally came to our side of the street. I could not help but ask them the logic of allowing such a rowdy group to come to our side of the street. The officer informed me that he told them they could cross as long as they didn't say anything to us. The whole scene made no sense but I let the officer know that I did not understand what had just occurred considering we are always peaceful and legal whereas their attitude was insulting and very aggressive.

By the grace of God they only stayed some minutes before crossing to the other side of the street. The honks were deafening which might have been the reason they could not tolerate being in our presence any longer. Their aggression only served to confirm the convictions of those who passed and caused them to take a flier when they might not have otherwise.

We immediately prayed to finish and the officers thanked us for a peaceful campaign. When we arrived to our car we found a disturbing sight. We were issued a parking ticket in spite of the fact that we had another hour left on the meter which we photographed for evidence. It was obvious by the disgusting spittle on the driver side window why we were given a ticket.

In the afternoon we did a campaign in Palmyra, NY, and received a lot of support in this very sleepy town as well.


Contact the Caravan

To contact the caravan, email them at tfp@tfp.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


How to Support the Caravan

If you want to help protect the sacred institution of marriage, please consider filling our van's gas tank with fuel and keep us on the road for traditional marriage.

If you would like to make your contribution by mail, please send a check payable to The American TFP and mail it to:

The American TFP
P.O. Box 251
Spring Grove, PA 17362.

Financial Reports Notice

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TFP-America Needs Fatima has study group meeting about the Middle Ages

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Picture of some of the members of the RCR study group that has been meeting at the McDowell's residence in Carlisle, PA.

Yesterday's session of study was about the marvels of the Middle Ages. 

At each meeting, a chapter of the book Revolution and Counter Revolution is read and studied.  This book by Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira is the best diagnosis of the current world crisis:

“The many crises shaking the world today - those of the State, family, economy, culture, and so on - are but multiple aspects of a single fundamental crisis whose field of action is man himself.  In other words, these crises have their root in the most profound problems of the soul, from whence they spread to the whole personality of present-day man and all his activities.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A rally captain's story

   A rally captain from two years ago was contacted by one of our volunteers.  She was not a rally captain last year.  Let me share her story with you.

    During her rally in 2007 a man approached her who was quite aggressive in his opposition to the Rosary Rally.  The rally captain, who was a lady, felt very intimidated by his threatening words.  As a result, she declined becoming a rally captain in 2008.  Sometime after the 2008 Public Rosary, she saw one of the pictures of Our Lady of Fatima, and she was filled with remorse for declining out of human respect.

    She then vowed, that she would never again refuse Our Lady's request!  She was so happy to have the opportunity to publicly stand for Our Lady this year.

Testimonial from hostess of Fatima visit

We received correspondence today from Mrs. Pickla of Bryn Mar, PA.  She wrote the following remarks about her recent Fatima Home Visit.

    As a result of the visit Mrs. Bryn wrote, "I will never be the same!"

    She described Jose, the custodian as, "impeccable in his appearance and manner and very reverent."

    She described the scheduling process as, "well organized with all questions answered, a lovely experience."

    She closed her comments with the following, "your work is such praise for our Holy Mother, my prayers are with you."

    If you would like to experience the maternal presence and graces of the Pilgrim Virgin in your home as well as having Our Lady brought by a true Catholic gentleman, please call toll free at (888) 460 - 7371, or you can email the director at fjslo@aol.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

A beautiful story from rally captain

A Mrs. Delaney from Alabama related a beautiful story.  She has been a rally captain for the last two years and will be a captain again this year. 

    Her husband was not Catholic.  He battled cancer for two years.  During this battle, he agreed to be baptized, and made his First Holy Communion on the anniversary of one of the days that Our Lady appeared at Fatima.  He died shortly after.

    In thanksgiving for her husband's conversion she is going to be a rally captain again this year, even though October 10th will be the date of her son's wedding. 

    Another rally captain from Jersey City, New Jersey by the name of Mrs. Matos, has been holding a public rosary using her banner, every Saturday at 12:00 Noon.

    These two rally captains are models of what devotion to Our Lady should be!  May Our Lady continue to grant them many graces for their sacrifices for Our Lady!

    All America Needs Fatima is asking of you, is to hold one public rosary on Saturday October 10th at 12:00 Noon.

    To sign up you can click here  http://www.americaneedsfatima.org/rrc-signup.html

    Or you can call us toll free at: (866) 584 - 6012.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Over 1,000 Rally Captains today!

This afternoon our dedicated volunteers completed signing up the first thousand rally captain!  As a result, we have the first thousand red roses to present to Our Lady in October.  The volunteer office is full of enthusiasm.  Calls keep pouring in as well as emails and outgoing calls when there is time to make those.

    This is the first of what we hope will be 4,000 rally captains. With volunteers who are so intensely devoted to Our Lady I have every confidence that this goal will be reached.  This first thousand has been reached after only three weeks of volunteers helping out.  Some of these rally captains were rally captains last year, but some are enlisting as rally captains for the first time.  They see the intense moral crisis with which our nation is afflicted.

    Don't delay becoming a rally captain, call today at (866) - 584 - 6012.

Great enthusiasm at rosary rally central office in Kansas

Our newest volunteers for this year's Public Square Rosary Campaign are all veterans from past years.  They arrived with more enthusiasm than ever. 

0720 volunteers 002

   It is edifying to observe them on the phones encouraging and signing up new rally captains as well as ably answering questions.

    Their dedication and enthusiasm is demonstrated by the 100 rally captains that they signed up in one day, only yesterday!

    One of our volunteers had an interesting story to tell.  She was trying to convince someone to become a rally captain. The person responded that she would call back.  Our volunteer encouraged her to try to make the decision right then and there.  The volunteer reminded her that as soon as she gets off of the phone, she may become busy and distracted and forget to call back.  The person said she wanted to think about it so they ended the call.  A couple of minutes later the new rally captain called back and signed up as a rally captain!

    Our latest volunteers are from the left, Miss Gemma Burnham from Pennsylvania, Miss Mary Consoli also from Pennsylvania, Miss Madeleine Miller from Texas, Miss Marisa Consoli, older sister to Mary and finally Miss Sarah Shibler from Kansas.

    We hope some time today to reach the 1,000 mark.  If you have not yet signed up to become a rally captain won't you help these volunteers reach their goal to reach 1,000 today by calling in at (866) 584 - 6012?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lewiston, Maine, sees great crusade for traditional marriage

Local channel six interviewed Mr. Richard Lyon and the segment aired in the evening news. You can watch it here.

The point about abrasiveness is in response to an insinuation that our campaign was too aggressive. Mr. Lyon pointed out that the harshness is actually coming from the proponents of homosexual marriage.  Judge for yourself by watching the video.

A case in point about the aggressiveness: Mr. Joseph Ferrara handed a flyer to a woman who promptly ripped it up and threw it in his face. So much for "tolerance" and "love."

caravan2009-lewiston1

On the other hand, the support continues to be very strong. We got segments of continuous honking with plenty of thumbs-up, waving and friendly smiles.

One man riding a bicycle crossed to the island where one member held a sign. He approached the member from behind and said: "Honk, honk. My bicycle doesn't have a horn but I support you anyway."

Regarding the honks, there are times when it seems like about twenty some cars are all honking in the same time. With all the happy faces, the atmosphere seems festive, as if the local team just won the Super Bowl.

The best honks, though, come from truckers, whose horns clearly overpower any car. We started targeting big truckers encouraging them to pull on their horns and surprisingly the majority do.

So, until next time, please continue to pray for the campaign, especially here in far away lobster country.

St. Joseph, Pillar of the Family, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Elias, pray for us.


Contact the Caravan

To contact the caravan, email them at tfp@tfp.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

How to Support the Caravan
If you want to help protect the sacred institution of marriage, please consider filling our van's gas tank with fuel and keep us on the road for traditional marriage.

If you would like to make your contribution by mail, please send a check payable to TFP Student Action and mail it to:

The American TFP
1358 Jefferson Rd.
Spring Grove, PA 17362.

Financial Reports Notice

Romania stiff-arms same-sex 'marriage'

Romania's Parliament has moved to protect traditional marriage.

http://onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=612576

Roger Kiska, a member of Alliance Defense Fund's legal counsel, is stationed in Europe. He tells OneNewsNow that Romania adopted a strong civil code enshrining traditional marriage in law.

"It's defined throughout the code -- spouse as between a man and a woman," he explains. "It forbids these backdoor, so-called same-sex 'marriages' where Romanian citizens or foreigners come into the country and ask that their marriage be recognized by the country. It also does the same with civil unions."
Alliance Defense Fund played a prominent role in assisting supporters in the Romanian parliament.


Roger Kiska (ADF)
"Through Peter Costea, who is one of our allied attorneys and the head of Alliance for Romanian Families, who's been doing excellent work in Romania, got these provisions enacted in the law," Kiska points out, "and we're just happy to see in Europe these types of protections being afforded to marriage."


Kiska concludes that Romania has a strong history of supporting traditional marriage, as do most European nations. Romania's new civil code will take effect January 1, 2010.

http://onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=612576

White House Claim: Obama Made Same Abortion Pledge to Both Pope and Planned Parenthood

Mayo clinic slams Obama healthcare plan

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an exchange with the Cybercast News Service (CNS) concerning the President's healthcare bill, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama's promise to the Pope to reduce abortions was the same promise he made to Planned Parenthood in a July 2007 speech. 

"I have two questions on health care," the CNS reporter asked Gibbs. "One, going back to the President's visit to the Vatican, he reportedly told the Pope that he would work to and do all he could to reduce the number of abortions -"

At which point Gibbs interjected, "I think he said -- he said that in a speech to Planned Parenthood in 2007, so yes."

Earlier this month, President Obama pledged to Pope Benedict XVI "his commitment to reducing the numbers of abortions and to listen to the Church's concern on moral issues," according to Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J.

In a well-known speech delivered to Planned Parenthood Action Fund on July 17, 2007, then-Senator Obama proclaimed that "we need to tackle the tragedy of unintended teen pregnancy," but offered contraception and explicit sex education as the solution. The reduction of abortion was not mentioned at any point.

In the same speech, however, Obama did describe abortion as "at the center, the heart of" his proposed healthcare overhaul, and said that his election was "not just about playing defense, it's also about playing offense" in the expansion of abortion. In a question-and-answer after the speech, Obama made his infamous pledge to sign FOCA as his first act as President. FOCA is a piece of legislation that would eradicate all restrictions on abortion passed by individual states since Roe v. Wade, including revoking all conscience rights for physicians.

CNS also asked Gibbs if reducing abortions would not include passing the Hatch Amendment that would prohibit federal funds from going to abortion in Obama's proposed health care plan. Studies have shown that making abortion publicly funded significantly increases the number of abortions that are committed.

Gibbs responded, however, that Obama would be leaving the question of whether or not to fund abortion in the plan up to  "experts."

Said Gibbs: "Well, I have not seen the Hatch amendment. I know the President believes that current policy -- certainly current policy for Medicaid prohibits federal funding for abortions. That's the Hyde amendment. I think when it comes to designing a benefit package, I think the President and this administration agree that that's -- a benefit package is better left to experts in the medical field to determine how best and what procedures to cover."

The legislation currently under consideration calls for a 25-member "Health Benefits Advisory Committee" to construct the government's basic health insurance package.  The committee members would be appointed by Obama and the strongly pro-abortion Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 

An amendment offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch to prohibit the taxpayer-funded plan from covering abortion was rejected by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Obama's healthcare plan continues to meet stiff opposition on other fronts.  The Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota-based medical group hailed as a leader in medical practice and research around the world, strongly criticized the plan, saying the House version of the bill would only make America's healthcare problems worse.

"Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill - including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects - the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients," stated a Mayo Clinic Health Policy blog entry entitled "Mayo Clinic's reaction to the House Tri-Committee Bill" July 16. 

"In fact, it will do the opposite."

The clinic explained that the healthcare bill provisions in general "are not patient focused or results oriented."  "Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental lever - a change in Medicare payment policy - to help drive necessary improvements in American health care.

"Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in American health care will wither. The real losers will be the citizens of the United States."

Only weeks earlier, President Obama had cited the Mayo Clinic as an example of the high-quality, low-cost healthcare that the government-run healthcare would purportedly emulate.

Pro-life leaders are urging citizens to attend a Thursday webcast at 9 p.m. EST addressing the dangers of the healthcare bill's hidden abortion mandate, which is increasingly becoming known as the "silent FOCA."

URL: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09072110.html

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Report from rosary rally central

  Our volunteers continue to make many calls enlisting Rosary Rally Captains for October 10th.  We have volunteers of all ages including young adolescents as well as volunteers who are youthful in spirit in their 80's.

    While speaking with a rally captain on the phone who was reenlisting for this year's public square rosary the rally captain related an interesting story about last year's rally.  One of the participants who attended her rally was 89 years old.  She began crying heavily during the rosary.  Afterwards the rally captain asked her what was wrong.  This participant who was from Europe described how her family had routinely gathered the neighbors together on her block to pray the rosary.

     During World War II she was put into a concentration camp.  Her task was to stack the bodies of the dead.  She survived, whereas so many others did not.  The 2008 Public Rosary brought back memories of those public rosaries that quite possibly were responsible for her surviving the horrors she was surrounded by.

    We cannot imagine the rich blessings that Our Lady bestows on those who publicly honor Her with Her Rosary.  Such blessings can gain for us graces of perseverance despite horrible trials, and even protect us amidst great evils.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Traditional Marriage Crusade in Maine Mall, Portland, ME

by Richard Lyon

caravan2009-maine-mall1

Well, here is the Maine Caravan's first report. While we sense that the majority of Mainers favor traditional marriage, we expected much opposition from the notoriously liberal area of Portland. Locals even warned us about them.  So with some trepidation, we set up at the busiest intersection in South Portland at the Maine Mall.

Maine Mall is a massive place with lots of car traffic going in and out. We set up, with our large TFP standard and banner that reads "God's marriage: 1 man and 1 woman." We also had several signs with "Honk for Traditional Marriage" written on them.

Local police who came out to view the campaign assured us: "You guys chose the busiest and the best corner in South Portland."

As we set up, it was uplifting to hear honks in support. People shouted their support and showed their happiness that we were standing up to the homosexual movement. We were surprised that the favorable reactions to the campaign largely outnumbered the obscenities of the pro-homosexuals.

However, as we were setting up, a passerby questioned the futility of our efforts: "Aren't you afraid you are making fools of yourselves?" Since he was obviously a proponent of same-sex "marriage," we asked, "if we are making fools of ourselves, what have you to fear?"

This kept up for the whole campaign. People honked and gave us thumbs-up and even argued against supporters of same-sex "marriage." There was one case where a truck with two men started honking and shouting their support. A car drove up next to them and its occupants began to curse and shout obscenities.

The men in the truck engaged them in debate, which infuriated the "tolerant" pro-same-sex "marriage" proponents.


caravan2009-maine-mall2

Overall, the tone of the campaign was good. But evil did put in an appearance. One of our volunteers, Francisco Saidl had a soda thrown at him.  This was done by one of those who call themselves "tolerant" and "full of love."

Tomorrow, we continue the fight.  Please pray to our patron St. Joseph, Pillar of the Holy Family, for the success of our endeavors against same-sex "marriage" here in the great state of Maine.

St. Joseph, Pillar of the Family Caravan
Pray for us!

How to Support the Caravan

If you want to help protect the sacred institution of marriage, please consider filling our van's gas tank with fuel and keep us on the road for traditional marriage.

If you would like to make your contribution by mail, please send a check payable to TFP Student Action and mail it to:

The American TFP
1358 Jefferson Rd.
Spring Grove, PA 17362

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Almost 1,000 Rosary Rally Captains -- Help Needed

image

The target date is October 10 and the goal is four thousand Public Square Rosary rallies nationwide.

At the campaign headquarters near Topeka, Kansas, coordinator Francis Slobodnik announced that they were getting close to a milestone of 1,000 Rosary Rally Captains nationwide and that volunteer help is needed.  (See below for details)

America Needs Fatima is promoting rosary rallies in public places as a fitting way of commemorating the anniversary of the ninetieth anniversary of the miracle of the sun on October 13, 1917.  To combat the effort of secularists who seek to ban Catholics from the public square, participants are asked to proclaim their faith publicly.

Almost 1,000 people have committed themselves to organize these rallies in nearly every state. "People are very excited about the rallies. We are gaining momentum," Mr. Slobodnik noted.

As the date gets closer, efforts to recruit rally captains and helpers are intensifying.  Many Catholics are visiting the website resource page:

http://www.americaneedsfatima.org/Rosary-Rally-Central/rosary-rally-central.html

The Kansas rosary rally office is buzzing with activity as volunteers and staff are engaged in recruiting rosary captains, answering questions and sending out supplies. Volunteers are urgently needed.

"Our biggest problem is not in finding rally captains but speaking with all the people who call in and express interest," says Mr. Slobodnik.

At this point, the Rosary Rally campaign is looking for people interested in volunteering to make calls and answer questions.  As the campaign progresses, success will depend on keeping up with the calls.

Those interested in helping with this effort are asked to call the Campaign Hotline at 1-866- 584-6012 or send an email with contact information to:

ANFRosaryRally@aol.com

Lithuania Parliament Overturns Presidential Veto of Law Banning Homosexual Propaganda in Schools

By Alex Bush

VILNUS, Lithuania, July 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Siemas, the Lithuanian Parliamentary body, earlier this week overturned former President Valdas Adamkus' veto of the recently passed law that will ban the public dissemination to children of harmful materials, including homosexual propoganda.  The new President, Dalia Grybauskait, who was inaugurated on Sunday, is now forced to sign the law, despite the fact that she has expressed virulent opposition to the legislation.

The original law was passed by a margin of 67-3, with 67 members either not present to vote or abstaining.  After the law was vetoed, 71 votes were required to overturn the veto, 50% plus 1 of the 141 member body.  The veto was overturned by a vote of 87-6 while 48 members either abstained or were absent from the vote.

The law will prohibit the dissemination of public information that is recognized in general to have a negative effect on the mental, physical, intellectual, and moral development of youth. This includes the spreading of information that "agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations, or polygamy."

It also bans "the portrayal of physical or psychological violence, displaying a dead or mutilated body, [and] information that arouses fear or horror or that encourages self abuse or suicide."

"We have finally taken a step which will help Lithuania raise healthy and mentally sound generations unaffected by the rotten culture that is now overwhelming them," said Petras Grazulis, a lawmaker who co-sponsored the bill.

Pro-homosexual groups, on the other hand, have condemned the law, calling it "discriminatory."

Amnesty International said that they are concerned the law will "institutionalise homophobia, impeding the work of human rights defenders and furthering the stigmatization of and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

"Far from protecting children, the law deprives young people of their right to freedom of expression and access to information and risks isolating children who are already amongst the most at risk of violence at school or within the family," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's researcher on Discrimination in Europe.

On the other hand, MP Jaroslaw Narkiewicz said in an interview with Nasz Dziennik, a Polish Catholic daily, "Members of parliament came to a conclusion, that behavior which has a destructive effect on children cannot be tolerated. The present situation in the media influenced that."

"We see growing violence in the media, to which minors have access. We also see attempts to present homosexuality or bisexuality in a positive way, not only in entertainment programs or in talk shows, but also in educational shows. While the fact that these kinds of behaviors are against natural law and Christianity, is largely forgotten," he said.

Narkiewicz, however, criticized the law for lacking meaningful penalties that would prevent groups from violating the law.

Related LifeSiteNews.com Coverage:

Lithuania Passes Law against Homosexual Propaganda in Schools, Media
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jun/09061805.html

Lithuania President Vetoes Law Banning Homosexual Propaganda in Schools
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jun/09062903.html

URL: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09071703.html

Friday, July 17, 2009

The story of a brave rosary rally captain

    A brave rosary rally captain from 2008, who is now signed up to become a rally captain this 2009 shared with one of our volunteers an incredible story.

    When she arrived at her location, at the front of a movie theater, (what better place to offer reparation), she found herself alone.  That did not stop her.  She tied her banner that she had brought with her between two posts, and in one hand she held a crucifix and in another hand she held her rosary.  She completed the rally entirely by herself.  At the end of the rally the police arrived and told her she would have to move.  That was not a problem as she had just completed her rally.

    This captain is an example of the kind of bravery shown by our rally captains who overcome all human respect out of their love for Our Lady.

    To sign up to become a rally captain please go to www.ANF.org or you can call one of our volunteers toll free at (866) 584 - 6012.

Senate OKs Hate Crimes Amendment to Must-Pass Defense Bill

By Lawrence D. Jones

Christian Post Reporter

Fri, Jul. 17 2009 09:49 AM EDT

The Senate voted Thursday to attach a hate crimes bill as an amendment to a must-pass defense spending bill expected to be completed next week.

If passed in its current form, the legislation would expand federal hate crimes to include those perpetrated against people because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It would also remove restrictions on federally protected activities.

"The Senate made a strong statement this evening that hate crimes have no place in America," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after Thursday’s vote.

FULL STORY HERE:

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090717/senate-oks-hate-crimes-amendment-to-must-pass-defense-bill/index.html

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Louisiana Call to Chivalry Summer Camp Recalls Heroism of Mexican Cristero Martyrs

Written by Michael Gorre

                             la_summercamp_sanchezdelrio

Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río

Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río was just 14 years old when he laid down his life for the Catholic Faith in the persecution-ravaged Mexico of the late 1920’s. “Long Live Christ the King!” were his last words. Over eighty years later, that battle cry sounded frequently among the teenagers at the Call to Chivalry Summer Camp for boys in Norwood, Louisiana, from June 30 to July 9, 2009.

Forty-two Catholic young men from across the United States gathered to learn about the little-known Cristero Martyrs of Mexico and to participate in the adventure that is the TFP Call to Chivalry Summer Camp.

Talks about the Catholic Religion, Chivalry and the Cristeros


Every TFP summer camp is an intellectual adventure with talks and presentations spread throughout the ten-day program. Msgr. Robert Bergreen, pastor of St. Anne’s in Baton Rouge, gave the boys a talk on Catholic Apologetics, refuting the concept of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Only) and explained how the Church as the Guardian of Divine Revelation put together the books of the Bible.

Setting the tone of the camp, TFP-Louisiana President Thomas Drake gave a talk on the Code of Chivalry, Knighthood and the Military Religious Orders. He gave each participant a copy of the Ten Commandments of Chivalry and challenged the boys to memorize them.

TFP member and St. Louis de Montfort Academy instructor John Drake delivered a talk about the Medieval Social Order and about the Three Revolutions—the Protestant Pseudo-Reformation, The French Revolution and the Communist Revolution. Mr. Drake then gave a two-part talk about the Cristero War in Mexico (1926-1929).

Illustrating his talk with a slideshow of historic photographs, he dealt with the anti-Catholic government persecution led by such cruel dictators as Benito Juarez and Plutarco Calles.  Then followed a presentation on the uprising of the loyal Catholic Mexicans, the Cristeros, among whom were men like Anacleto Flores and Luis Padilla Gómez both beatified martyrs. In addition to Mr. John Drake’s talks, TFP volunteers gave talks about the Kingship of Christ, the Reconquest of Spain, Hernan Cortes and the Aztecs, the Story of Our Lady of Guadeloupe and a talk about the saintly President of Ecuador, Garcia Moreno.

la_summercamp_john_drake

Mr. John Drake delivering a talk about the anti-Catholic persecution in Mexico in the 1920's.

In the cultural sphere, Mr. Gregory Escaro gave a presentation on the Power of Music. Complete with live piano, organ and trumpet samples, along with excerpts of Rock n’ Roll and Soft Rock, Mr. Escaro demonstrated how music is a strong spiritual and psychological tool which can lead one towards virtue or vice.

Mindful of the boys’ formation as Catholic gentlemen, Mr. Bruno Schroeder gave a talk on Table Manners and on Gadgets and the Spiritual Life. Then Messrs. Peter Miller and Thomas Schneider of TFP Student Action gave a lively presentation on their adventures during TFP street and university campus campaigns in defense of traditional marriage in late 2008 in California.

Cristero Day

July 6 was designated “Cristero Day” and was celebrated with a Mexican-themed dinner made with the help of an America Needs Fatima donor in New Orleans who owns a Mexican restaurant.

One of the boys’ mothers made a delicious Mexican cake which was presented to Msgr. Robert Begreen for his birthday. Each of the talks were enlivened with slideshows and some even had video clips, but what surely captured boys’ imaginations was a theatre skit about a Cristero named Pedro arrested for having a Rosary and a picture of Our Lady of Guadeloupe in his sombrero.

Perhaps the most inspiring story, however, was conveyed in a “Chinese shadow” presentation on the life of young Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río. The “Chinese shadow,” a combination of prerecorded narration and dialogue together with live silhouettes against changing backgrounds, was acted out by camp participants themselves. His story so inspired the boys that, for the rest of the camp, Blessed José and the Cristeros’ battle cry “Viva Cristo Rey!” became the boys’ constant rallying cry.

la_summercamp_chinese_shadow

Viva Cristo Rey!

Outdoor Adventures

In the line of adventures requiring athletic prowess, participants went on a hike through Tunica Hills, competed in outdoor field games and cooled off while swimming and jumping off a twenty-foot inflated “iceberg” in the middle of a lake. The boys also engaged in rock-climbing, zip lining, archery and a self-defense class given by Mr. Allen Taylor, who runs a self-defense school in Baton Rouge.

In a test of wits and endurance, the boys divided into two teams and went on a treasure hunt. Thirteen clues were hidden throughout the 220-acre Feliciana Retreat Center containing riddles and even a Morse coded message to lead the teams on towards the treasure, a large box laden with chocolate coins and candy. Magnanimous gentlemen as they were, the victors shared the booty with the defeated team.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, several of the boys’ dads cooked up a delicious barbecue complete with tender beef brisket, two kinds of sausages, potato salad and baked beans. The dads generously do this every year at the Louisiana camp and the boys and camp counselors always eagerly look forward to it. Earlier in the camp, the boys learned how to march in step together. To the beat of drums and the sound of the Marines’ Hymn and God Bless America on bagpipes, the camp participants marched through the crowd gathered on the bank of the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge led by a large American flag hoisted on a sixteen-foot pole.

Many in the crowd cheered the boys on as they looked up and saw them marching in cadence onto the destroyer USS Kidd to watch the fireworks display.

la_summercamp_kidd

Marching to the USS Kidd.

The Grand Finale

As with all TFP Call to Chivalry summer camps, the grand finale is the Medieval Games and Banquet. Again the participants divided into two teams, each with its own lion or cross-emblazoned scapulars, battle cry and patron saint. They played each other in a series of games such as shield-ball, French football, steal-the-bacon and tug-o-war in a large field marked off with banners and pennants.

A “canoe-run” obstacle course tested the teamwork abilities of the young men. Each four-man team carried a canoe over land and rowed it to the middle of the lake where they deploy the most nimble teammate to climb the inflated “iceberg.” At the top, the boy invokes his team’s patron saint and takes the twenty-foot plunge where he is picked up by his awaiting team canoe, whereupon they make their way to the finish line back on land.

Needless to say, all this activity built up a ferocious appetite.
While the Rosary procession meandered solemnly towards the banquet pavilion decorated with colorful flags and TFP standards, the evening sun sent its amber rays down on the boys and their parents. Escorted by three TFP members dressed in their ceremonial habit, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima is enthroned behind the main table. After Msgr. Bergreen blessed the food, bagpipes sounded the entrance of the cauchon du lait (suckling pig Cajun style) borne on the shoulders of four stronger boys. The castle cake dessert was also piped in and awed all with both its presentation and scrumptiousness.

la_summercamp_habit_rosary

TFP members in ceremonial habit escort Our Lady.

After the awarding of the trophies for the chess, archery and ping-pong tournaments, three brave boys successfully recited the Ten Commandments of Chivalry by heart.

Finally, Msgr. Bergreen handed each participant the memento for the 2009 Call to Chivalry Camp, a framed photo collage of Our Lady of Guadeloupe and three Mexican martyrs. To close the camp, TFP-Louisiana President Thomas Drake recalled the Cristero martyrs’ heroism in remaining faithful to their Catholic Faith and culture in a time of persecution.

It is our time to work now in society to prevent such a disaster, but come what may, we have the example of those like Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río who, rather than say “Christ is dead!” shouted “Long live Christ the King! Long live the Virgin of Guadeloupe!”

Communism Is Not Dead

The wounds caused by communism are still present and are poisoning the life and society of nations formerly behind the Iron
Curtain, affirmed Eastern European bishops in February 2009 after a conference in Zagreb, Croatia.

Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb and vice president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, added that despite the fall of communism, “its structure has remained in legislation and in judicial power, in the economy, in education
and in culture,” which makes it, among other things, extremely difficult to replant the seeds of truth.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Is so Crucial for Our Days

Written by Luiz Sergio Solimeo

immaculate_heart

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is at the very core of the Fatima message. The Blessed Mother presented it as the solution to the problems of the world and to save souls from going to Hell.

Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart

At the third apparition, in July 1917, after the terrible vision of Hell, Our Lady presented devotion to her Immaculate Heart, together with the Communion of Reparation of the First Five Saturdays and the consecration of Russia, as the means to avoid the perdition of souls, the chastisement of a new world war and the expansion of communism.
At an earlier apparition in June, Our Lady had told Lucia, “Jesus . . . wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish His Throne.
Devotion of Reparation
As recommended by the Blessed Mother, this devotion is intended to make reparation for the ongoing offenses suffered by the Immaculate Heart. At the June 1917 apparition, Our Lady opened her hands, which gave off an intense light: “In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart surrounded with thorns that appeared to be piercing it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, insulted by the sins of humanity, which wanted reparation.”
***
What is the meaning of this devotion? Why should we venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Given our limited space, we will detail a few aspects, rich in meaning, of this admirable devotion.
A Symbol of Our Lady’s Love
From time immemorial the heart has symbolized love, the most noble of all sentiments. In relation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it represents the Savior’s redeeming love to the point of delivering Himself for us and the co-redeeming love of Mary Most Holy that is united intimately with her Divine Son’s sacrifice.
Thus, the object of devotion to the Sacred Hearts is His merciful love. This is why Pope Pius XII affirmed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—it is fundamental. Based on his argument, theologians say the same about the Immaculate Heart of Mary: it is well understood and it is the essence of all devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Devotion to the Persons of Jesus and Mary
In addition to their specific functions, the parts of the human body serve to symbolize an aspect of a person’s most salient characteristics. Thus, a perspicacious person is said to have “eagle eyes” and a very courageous man has “a lion’s heart.” The same happens with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary: it emphasizes a body part to symbolize a salient aspect of the whole adorable Person of Jesus Christ and the venerable Person of His Most Holy Mother, which is their merciful love. Devotion to these Hearts addresses therefore to the Persons of Jesus and of Mary.1
Immaculate, Most Holy, Full of Grace
The absence of any sin in a creature implies a most abundant help of grace, which would not be possible without the extraordinary help from God. This is why the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary as being “full of grace.”2 Likewise, the absence of all sin implies a high degree of perfection and sanctity. Therefore, the Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizes the hallowed purity and sanctity of Mary Most Holy and her complete fidelity to God.
Dolorous Heart
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also a dolorous heart, pierced with sorrow. Soon after the joys of the Savior’s birth, at the Presentation in the Temple, the old Simeon, turning to the Mother of God, prophesied, “Behold, this child is set for the ruin, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”3
Maximo Peinador, a Spanish theologian, comments:
What were the feelings of Mary’s heart upon hearing the words of Simeon? They are easily guessed: her admiration and joy before the manifestation of her Son suddenly turns into bitter sorrow. The words, not only about the future of her Son but her own, were clear and definitive. But the entire and definitive fulfillment of Simeon’s announcement would be realized on Calvary . . . . There, as nowhere else, Christ crucified would be a sign of contradiction . . . . At the foot of the cross, His Mother would feel the announced sword in all the fibers of her motherly heart.4
A Wise Heart
Mary Most Holy is the Mother of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, and for this reason she is venerated as the Seat of Wisdom. Her Immaculate Heart also is, therefore, a Wise Heart, and Catholic liturgy has applied to her, since the 8th century, texts from the Sapiential books of Scripture.5
This sapiential aspect is emphasized in the two references that Saint Luke makes to the Heart of Mary. “Heart” here is a symbol of Our Lady’s interior life and of her continuous contemplation of God’s marvels, particularly as manifested in her Divine Son.
The first reference is to the scene of the shepherds visiting the newborn Savior. Saint Luke comments, “But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The second reference is about the loss and finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Saint Luke repeats the same comment, with a slight difference, maintaining the same sense, “And his mother kept all these words in her heart” (Luke 2:51).
A Maternal Heart, Full of Tenderness
It would be impossible in a short article to cover all aspects of the Immaculate Heart. But one cannot fail to recall that it is a motherly Heart filled with the tenderness that the best of all mothers had for the best of all sons. This tenderness is reflected in the love, full of mercy, that she has for us; which is why we invoke her as Mater Misericordiae.
A Devotion Suited to Our Days
We find ourselves today in a time when sentiment is dying and relationships between persons are increasingly dominated by brutality, cynicism, self-interest and sensuality.
Just think of abortion! Is this not the most cruel and brutal suppression of the most noble of all affections, which is motherly love? Isn’t this love often shortchanged by the attachment for a professional career or a transitory promiscuous relationship? Isn’t something similar happening to fatherly love? Isn’t this tragic egoism that destroys family relationships, and thus the family itself, spreading to all other types of human relationships? Thus one understands the Blessed Mother’s 1917 prophetic wisdom in Fatima when men would witness the death of sentiment.
Hence the remedy for the immense crisis we find ourselves in is devotion to that venerable and most holy Heart capable of restoring true feelings of love, affection and mercy, and the purity of which our times are so needful. The Immaculate Heart is the source, overflowing with motherly love, of the one who is “full of grace.”6

Footnotes
1. The Sacred Heart of Jesus can be the object of adoration. Indeed, Pope Pius XII taught: . . . His Heart, the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word. Consequently, there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God Himself. We are dealing here with an article of faith, for it has been solemnly defined in the general Council of Ephesus and the second Council of Constantinople. Haurietis Aquas, His Holiness Pope Pius XII. Encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart, May 15, 1956, 21. [back]
2. Luke 1:28. [back]
3. Luke 2:34–35. [back]
4. Maximo Peinador, C.M.F., Teologia Biblica Cordimariana (Madrid : Co. Cul. S.A., 1959), 125. [back]
5. The books of the Scripture that teach wisdom, known as Sapiential books, are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach). [back]
6. Luke 1:28. [back]

Vatican Paper Heaps Praise on Harry Potter Film

By Hilary White

ROME, July 14, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's quasi-official newspaper, has heaped praise on the latest film adaptation of the Harry Potter series of children's books, criticised previously as spiritually dangerous by Pope Benedict XVI prior to his elevation to the pontificate. The review called the film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the "most successful of the series" thus far.

In his review in yesterday's Italian edition of the paper, Gaetano Vallini praised the film for promoting "friendship, altruism, loyalty and self-giving" and said that the kind of magic portrayed in the film is the same as magic in fairy tales.

The new film and the books make clear, he said, "the line of demarcation between one who does good and one who does evil, and it is not difficult for the reader or the viewer to identify with the first."  "This is particularly true in the latest film. They know that doing good is the right thing to do. And they also understand that sometimes this involves hard work and sacrifice," Vallini continued.

L'Osservatore Romano's praise for Harry Potter has been widely reported in the mainstream media in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Polish language sources. Making no distinction between official approval by an office of the Vatican and a newspaper movie review, The Daily Telegraph ran the headline, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince praised by Vatican," and commented, "The Catholic Church has heaped praise on the latest Harry Potter film after previously accusing the books of promoting witchcraft and the occult."

The Telegraph was only one among the many mainstream news sources to observe the unusual praise for Harry Potter by the Vatican's quasi-official newspaper. The Daily Mail ran the headline, "Vatican U-turn as it gives new Harry Potter film its seal of approval." Some reports noted the stark contrast between this week's Vallini review with comments on Harry Potter made in L'Osservatore Romano last year when the paper condemned the books for encouraging an interest in the occult among children.

In January 2008, Edoardo Rialti wrote in L'Osservatore Romano that despite "superficially apparent common points" with such fantasy children's classics as the Lord of the Rings and the Narnia series, Harry Potter presents a "wrong model" for a hero. He referred to the "half truths" the books present on moral issues in which "the moral and spiritual structures are inverted or confused, a world in which evil is good."

"Despite the values that we come across in the narration, at the base of this story, witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal," Rialti wrote. The film's negative characterisation of ordinary people as "Muggles" who "know nothing other than bad and wicked things is a truly diabolical attitude."

The Vallini review appears to contrast too with the expressed opinion of Pope Benedict XIV on the danger to young people the books represent. In a 2003 letter, then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that the books presented "subtle seductions" that can "deeply distort Christianity" in children.

Cardinal Ratzinger was responding to the work of German journalist and religious writer Gabriele Kuby who had just published her 2003 book, "Harry Potter - Good or evil?" 

In a letter to Kuby dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, "It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."

Advocates of the Catholic teachings on life and family, particularly as they pertain to the public sphere, are becoming increasingly dismayed by the shift in editorial tenor of the Vatican paper.

In comments in late June on another article appearing in L'Osservatore Romano on the occasion of the death of American pop star Michael Jackson, US Catholic commentator Deal Hudson wrote that the paper is undergoing a "downward spiral" under its recently appointed editor-in-chief Giovanni Maria Vian. Hudson has been a vocal critic of the paper's glowing coverage of Barack Obama, presenting the virulently pro-abortion president as acceptable to Catholics.

Also commenting on the Jackson article, American canonist and canon law professor Edward N. Peters, wrote that such anomalies as these in the paper's recent articles and editorials are a result of L'Osservatore Romano having "decided to become relevant. God help us."

Peters, a lecturer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and consultant on canonical issues in the US, wrote the Michael Jackson piece left "little sense that much of Jackson's work was sexually exploitative, at times quasi-obscene."

"If the Vatican wants a newspaper to provide a Catholic perspective on the world, fine. Item Number One on the to-do list, though, should be to find Catholics who can write and edit such a paper coherently. Anyone can lurch from gaff to gaff." 

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
See LifeSiteNews Harry Potter Problem Page
Harry Potter Fanatics Lash Out at Pope, Michael O'Brien, LifeSiteNews Over Criticism of Novels

"Obama not Pro-Abortion" Says Editor in Chief of Vatican Newspaper
Novak Fed Up with Vatican Newspaper: "We asked Rome for Bread they Give us Stones"
Pro-Life Leaders Worldwide Concerned About Weakening of Vatican's Pro-Life Stand in Wake of Uncorrected Vatican Newspaper Article
See also
Vatican newspaper pays tribute to 1969 hippie film Easy Rider, takes swipe at Hays Code which promoted wholesomeness in movies between 1930 and 1968-- as “hypocritical and anachronistic.”

URL: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jul/09071404.html

Malaysian Catholics protest host desecration

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=15129

Two Malaysian Catholics have lodged a police report against the Al Islam magazine over an article in which a Muslim journalist took the holy communion at a Kuala Lumpur parish before taking the wafer from his mouth and photographing it.

Two Malaysian Catholics have lodged a police report against the Al Islam magazine over an article in which a Muslim journalist took the holy communion at a Kuala Lumpur parish before taking the wafer from his mouth and photographing it.

Joachim Francis Xavier and Sundhagaran Stanley, from Penang, are asking Catholics to make individual police reports and to express dissatisfaction with the magazine's publisher through telephone calls or faxes, The Nutgraph reports.

Full story:

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=15129

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Cult of Ugliness in America

Written by Fr. Anthony J. Brankin

cult_ugliness_times_square

The topic on which I have been asked to speak today is “The Cult of Ugliness in America.” I do not intend to speak of every possible example of ugliness in our society. That would be exhausting if not thoroughly discouraging. We already live cheek-by-jowl in an incredibly ugly culture; we cannot escape it. So if there is any purpose to this talk, it is to keep you aware of the very real danger that you might miss the ugliness entirely and never catch on to the real destruction that this ugliness is working in your very souls.

Now, what could I possibly mean by the word “ugly”? Is it too glib to say that if beauty can be defined as that which when seen pleases, then the ugly is that which when seen displeases? Why does it displease? Is there some definable element that tells us that an ugly piece is ugly? Is there an obvious line or shape or combination of lines and shapes that screams, “ugly!”
What can we make of the modern phenomenon whereby what is considered ugly nonetheless pleases — or what would be considered beautiful in another era or society is deemed by ours to be ugly?

For example, when I say that you live cheek-by-jowl with this ugliness, I mean to say that in coming to and going from this hall you are surrounded by miles and miles of unyielding ugliness: McDonalds and Burger Kings sandwiched between Amocos and tenements. You do not mistake that for beauty, but it is so ubiquitous that you may no longer recognize it as specifically ugly.

cult_ugliness_times_square

People no longer recognize things as specifically ugly.

You may never even make a mental note of the ugliness of all the malls with their false fronts and even falser interiors, or of the condominiums that are just as empty and sterile on the inside as they are on the outside. That’s just how everything looks now.
And, of course, that’s just for starters, for there is likewise in our world a spiritual ugliness no less all-pervasive than and somehow related to the visual ugliness all about us.

You will turn on your car radio only to hear of some new school shooting, and you won’t even be sure if this is the eighth or ninth such massacre in as many months. You will, however, be able to form a mental image of the alleged perpetrators, for you have seen the look and the fashions on your own block and maybe even within your own families: the chopped, colored hair, the mutilations, the tattoos, the rings in the nostrils and eyebrows, the baggy clothes, the backward baseball caps, the surly looks and the sullen grunts. You’ve even heard their music — God have mercy on us; we’ve all heard their music.

Then, of course, when you finally reach home, you will turn on the television news to hear of our scientific culture’s progress in the harvesting and sale of babies’ body parts. You will see news bytes of the political candidates trying to outdo each other in their dedication to killing babies.

cult_ugliness_la_ol2

A statue of Our Lady in
Los Angeles, the Cathedral
of Our Lady of the Angels.

Perhaps then, after supper, you will turn the channel to a show where you are treated to hour after hour of actors and actresses spewing vile lines in ever more tawdry productions. Could television programming be any less accurately described than by saying it consists of ugly, mean people doing ugly, mean things to each other? Indeed, the ugliness is so universal, so part and parcel of our lives, that it hardly registers in our minds anymore.

And having drunk fully of this awful cup, you go to bed.
Now, you might think that at least on Sunday you could be rescued from all of this visual and spiritual ugliness by going to church; but ugliness is there, too, for chances are that your church has already been despoiled by modern Catholic barbarians who haven’t even the artistic sense of the Unitarians who sit on your towns’ historic preservation boards.

The modernists will already have removed the tabernacle to a closet and the crucifix to the rectory basement. They will have torn up the sanctuary and torn down the shrines; and they will have done their expensive best to ruin whatever vision of spiritual loveliness the first parishioners and the first architect possessed. But, again, you are so used to it by now that what they have done to your church in the name of reform barely registers anymore in your minds — at least not until you have to confront what they have also done to the Mass — ever-perky, ever-childish, ever-changing, ever-boring, ever-therapeutic, until you are no longer sure who should be more embarrassed, you for still being there or the liturgists who invented it all.

No, the cult of ugliness is so pervasive, so all around us, in every nook and cranny of our lives, that we stand the risk at every moment of missing it, of no longer being able to see it or even be repelled by it.

What is Beauty?

Our talk will be divided into three parts: We shall first try to understand what has always been traditionally understood by the use of the word “beautiful” by most people in most eras, and in fact, how traditional Catholic philosophy was able to sort out that traditional understanding of beauty into an actual set of principles, the violation of which would yield ugliness.

Secondly, we shall try to situate these understandings of beauty and ugliness in the context of culture — or cult or faith — to see how beauty and ugliness flow naturally into the world from the content or emptiness of the soul.

Thirdly, we will make some personal resolutions, which we hope would take us a long way towards the destruction of this Cult of the Ugly.

Nature, the Matrix for Beauty

Ask any child who is drawing something what he is trying to do and he will tell you that he is trying to recreate something that he saw in nature, be it an apple, or the sun, or a tree, or a house. And, invariably, the measure of the success of the drawing for

that child is how closely the drawing resembles nature.
Accuracy according to nature was always the standard of reference for artists and societies, for all high civilizations from the Egyptians and Greeks to the Romans and Europeans. Each culture’s succeeding generations of artists tried to improve upon, or at least remember, the techniques, lessons, and discoveries of the previous generations, always seeking a greater beauty of lines, more solid figures, and truer perspectives.

It was generally accepted that there was infinitely more to a face than just that face — something else between the proportions of nose, eyes, cheekbones, jawbones, lips, and mouth — and this, of course, would be “beauty.”

cult_ugliness_st.thomas

St. Thomas Aquinas defines
beauty as that which when
seen pleases.

If, therefore, we are to understand anything about the “Cult of Ugliness,” we must first understand what beauty is. Its definition is basic enough. According to the great saint-philosopher of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, beauty is that which when seen pleases.* No more, no less. If colors and forms and shapes and compositions would please beggars and kings all at the same time, then that would be considered “beautiful.”

But why does it please? What would make the heart delight in that which the eye saw? Well, Saint Thomas said that if something gives us pleasure then there is always somehow present in the thing which gives pleasure something that is “good,” and the good always attracts us, always pleases us.

Now the good, which a person sees and senses in some beautiful thing, is its “form.” That is, it’s wholeness, its proportions. If such a thing is complete, right, and balanced, it is “good,” and what happens is that we are attracted to that “form” because we sense that there is in the object the same kind of form within us. We see and sense in the form of the beautiful object a “good.” And the good in it echoes the good in us — or at least the good that should be in us. We are fascinated and attracted by that sameness. It delights us and we want to remain in its presence.

Did you ever watch babies and see how they are totally taken in by other babies, how they react to those other little creatures that are so like them? How they stare at other babies, recognize the similarities, and even reach out to touch their faces?

The form of a beautiful object is considered beautiful because it is whole and proportionate, as we would sense ourselves to be whole and proportionate. We delight in the beauty of our own being. There is a resemblance between that which is in us and that which is in the beautiful object. And we are pleased.

But that is not all there is to the story. There is one more element present without which we cannot achieve all this pleasant recognition. Just as the eyes of the body need actual light to see anything, so too the eyes of the soul need a similar light which Saint Thomas calls claritas — clarity — a spark of light, so to speak, that glances off the beautiful object and actually comes from the beautiful object. It is the very same spark of being which comes from the Being of God. The very Being of God is present in the being of the object, and God’s beautiful Being is therefore revealed in the form and proportions and clarity of the object. Precisely because a beautiful thing is a reflection of the Beauty of God, we are naturally drawn and attracted to it as we would be drawn and attracted to God in our desire for union with Him.

The beauty of God is somehow mysteriously reflected in the beauty of being — first in nature, then in trees, sunsets, in faces and forms and figures; and then it is reflected in art — in drawings and paintings and sculptures and even in architecture (and, somehow, even more mysteriously, in music.)
The closer those artistic forms conform to nature, the closer they conform to the supernatural, and the more accurately do they reflect the truth, the beauty, and the goodness of God.

Beauty is Objective

We have been made to believe for generations now that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that it is all a matter of taste and culture, opinion and upbringing, that there is no true objective beauty out there that can be used as a universal standard. It all comes from one’s mind and what one likes. So, if you think a horribly skewed, out-of-shape series of smears and stains is beautiful, then, for you, it is beautiful.

Well, I stand here today to say, along with thirty thousand years of human instinct and two thousand years of Catholic tradition, that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty resides in the beautiful thing itself. It will either have proportion, wholeness, integrity, and clarity in itself and be from God, or it will not have those qualities and will be displeasing to the discerning soul and will therefore be ugly.
You see, just as theological modernism denies the objective reality of the supernatural, saying that all dogma, all revelation, is just your experience and, therefore, the truth is what you think is the truth, so too, artistic modernism tries to convince us that whatever anyone thinks is beautiful is beautiful for that person.
Indeed, today no one is allowed to say that anything is ugly, for to call something ugly hints at the possibility of an actual real standard of reference by which some things can be beautiful and some things not beautiful. This hints at the possibility of a claim to objective truth, which is certainly not allowed in today’s society because that would hint at a God.

We are cowed into a moral and cultural silence before the modern proclamation that a squat, misshapen, mis-proportioned figure is somehow beautiful — and even perhaps more artistic than the figure that God first created. How could it be said that that which seemed so ugly to us was still somehow beautiful to them? Well, they say it still, but now we know that this attitude is simply a modern intellectual conceit, by which their higher appreciation of art makes them superior to those not in on the game.

For the same reason, no one today is allowed to say that anything is wrong, to say that something is evil, or to say that something is immoral. If there is nothing that is in and of itself “true,” then neither is there something that is in and of itself good or bad — neither beautiful nor ugly.

Indeed, when you walk into some modern monstrosity of a church and your instinctive reaction is, “My God, this is ugly,” you are right. It probably is ugly. And you have no less an authority than Thomas Aquinas to back you up.

cult_ugliness_bras_cat

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder.

You incur no moral or aesthetic fault if weird angles and blank concrete walls in a church make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. There is no sin in seeing some hideous deformation of Christ on the cross or some monstrous representation of Mary and saying that it is hideous, that it is monstrous. Nor is there virtue in trying to think that, somehow, it is all really beautiful and that there must be something wrong with you. You need no longer feel forced into a corner bleating, “Well I guess I don’t know much about art.” It may simply mean that your good human and Catholic instincts are still intact and that they have, somehow, survived this ugly, ugly society.

Now you might be thinking: “My goodness, the world is falling apart and he’s talking about drawings. More than a million babies a year are being sucked out of the wombs of their mothers and he wants to discuss pretty pictures. Seventy per-cent of Catholics don’t even go to church anymore and he’s giving us lessons on the philosophy of art. If we wanted Sister Wendy we could have turned on PBS.”

This goes much deeper than aesthetic philosophy. It refers to the way we think about and deal with life itself — all of life, all of nature, all of being. All human activity is meant by means of beauty to provide us with an access to God, Who is All-Beautiful.

To Produce Beauty One Must Possess Beauty

cult_ugliness_bruges_cathedral

Bruges Cathedral. Medieval man possessed a sense of beauty.

It takes virtue to do virtuous things. Indeed, it takes virtue to even recognize virtue or to recognize its opposite. And if you possess this virtue, this grace — this natural penchant for the supernatural, this healthy sense of beauty, you will see, know, feel, and do things of which the rest are simply incapable.

The same goes for the sense of beauty. Unless beauty first resides within, it will never be exemplified without in any part of our society. Nor will it even be recognized.

That remnant sense of beauty — in our minds and hearts — by which we can still recognize the ugliness out there, either in ugly buildings or ugly philosophy or ugly lives, must be cherished and guarded as our last weapon in the struggle with No-God.
But how is it that the rest of our world has become so relentlessly ugly at every level? We seem to wallow in it. Well, perhaps it is clear by now that our society, no longer possessing virtue — theological or practical — no longer possessing grace or faith or even the dimmest notions of God, has embraced emptiness.

Having forsaken the true God, having blinded ourselves to His “claritas,” His spark, His light, we dwell in ugliness, darkness, and confusion.

We do not see or accomplish virtuous or beautiful things without, because there is no longer virtue or beauty within. A society that does not believe in God or super nature or even truth — let alone beauty — will do only ugly things.

Tragically enough, our world does not even know that it is ugly. We have already said that beauty is that which when seen pleases, and therefore we would know that the ugly would be that which when seen displeases. But look at our society, where it has become the macabre, the strange, the twisted, and the deformed that please. Where the most popular piece of cinema in years — number one for weeks — is a movie about a cannibal. It is the evil and ugly that now delights.

Well, welcome to the “Brave New World,” where that which in another era would have been called bad is now called good, and that which was once considered ugly is now considered beautiful.

The Cult of Ugliness Targets God Himself and Our Perception of Him

This discussion is hardly about pretty pictures. It is about the ever-ancient assault on His beauty — the original affront to His very existence and to the nature and the life that He created. The cult of ugliness in our land is no less than Satan’s rage against God.

It is no less than the gleaming spear-point of the culture of death.
Moreover, the cult of ugliness is so utterly pervasive and thorough in its celebration of the fruitless, the sterile, the weird, and the ugly that it pushes to the margins all other faiths — above all the True Faith.

The subliminal message in every confused and misshapen piece of modern architecture, art, music, or drama is that there is no God. The subliminal message in every deliberate mutilation of natural forms, in every tribute to physical and personal perversion, is that there is no God. The subliminal message in every celebration of the weird and deathly is that there is no God. This subliminal message is as surely the “Illuminated Gospel of Death” as any culture could have ever proclaimed, and by virtue of its omni-presence in every aspect of modern life, we are constantly encouraged to accept this gospel.

Sadly, even much of the clerical caste, whose task would certainly be understood to include fostering the cult of the beautiful as part of its proclamation of the Gospel of Life — and whom we certainly imagine would defend us from the ugly allurements of the No-God, is often too dense to see what is going on, and itself has surrendered in so many ways to the Cult of Ugliness.

This is demonstrated every time we walk into a church to see some splayfooted, goggle-eyed Christ on a cross or some rude, crude cement Madonna. The poor priest thought he was simply purchasing a nice piece of contemporary art for his flock. In all innocence and ignorance he assumed he was simply obtaining some fresh interpretation of traditional religious themes and was never conscious that what he was looking at and what he was filling the eyes of his flock with was actually the human form exploded, exploited, and degraded — reduced to its individual and impotent parts and slapped together again in a unsettling imbalance — all for the purpose of revealing and teaching the modern loathing of living forms, the modern loathing of a Creator.

No, the poor priest never thought he was doing that. I don’t think he thought it through at all. I don’t think he ever questioned the spiritual source of such strange shapes, or ever wondered from what terrible fonts such new forms sprang.
Perhaps he never suspected the existence of a Cult of the Ugly. Perhaps he just assumed that it was all a matter of taste, and that his taste, like that of his flock, was simply old-fashioned and ready for a little jarring now and then. Well, we have all been jarred.


cult_ugliness_ol1

Look at some of our newest churches and cathedrals. Many of them are stunning and awesome — no, not for their homage to tradition and the Catholic sense of beauty. They are stunning and awesome in their utter inhumanity, their complete lack of scale, their thorough and total sterility, and their horrifying proportions. There is not an angle that could please nor an arch that could comfort. Not a piece of molding that could hold us in its shadow.

Not even a little statue before which we could light a slender taper. Like the gaping mouth of the pagan, child-sacrificing furnaces of Moloch, some of our new churches will consume their people in holocausts of visual horror. I venture to say that one or two of these ecclesial “worship spaces” are some of the most terrifying pieces of architecture to have ever been accomplished by and for modern Catholics. I shudder at what harm this ugliness may accomplish in the souls of those who try to pray there. They are the clearest possible examples of the nihilism, the emptiness and nothingness, of which modernity constantly speaks — the relentless message that there is nothing out there — neither nature, nor beauty, nor God. And will we surprise ourselves to discover one day, by means of such architecture, that there is nothing left in our souls either?

Oh, what a series of ironic tragedies. We Catholics, thinking that we were opening the windows to dialogue with modernity, never had a clue that we were being used. Having spoken for so long in the language and in the forms of the modern world, we thought that we could put a Christian interpretation to the philosophy of the atheistic Enlightenment. We thought that now they would love us and come to our side. But we have found ourselves saying and meaning things we did not want to say or mean. And we do not even know how to unsay those things anymore. There it is for all the world to see — our newly acquired evangelical impotence and spiritual paralysis so clearly shown in the confusion of our renovated churches, the foolishness of our experimental liturgies, and the emptiness of our new cathedrals. Why indeed would anyone be attracted to the beauty of God, if this is what it looks like? And we will find one day that we ourselves are growing distant from God because His fascinating beauty is no longer to be found even within our own buildings.

What to Do?

So what do we do? What is the answer? Should we spend our remaining energies and spin our wheels trying to convince, to change, to convert our culture? And we really do sometimes think that, don’t we? We think that if everyone would see that one beautiful statue, or that one beautiful church, or would hear that one perfect argument or one beautiful Mass chant, then they would all be converted.

But how many converts came streaming into the Church after hearing the Gregorian chant recording from Spain? Sure it sold millions, but most, I’m sure, regarded it as little more than mood music to accompany them on the treadmill. The moderns had no idea about what these monks were singing — and Latin was not the problem.

How many of us thought, twenty-five years ago, that if we could just show everyone photos of the developing fetus, the pro-life cause would triumph conclusively? No one cared; and now we find ourselves fighting the battle against infanticide.
Well, is it all over? Do we throw our hands up in total discouragement? Do we resign ourselves to the physical ugliness and spiritual vacuum of our age? Do we surrender to the No-God of our era, place ourselves on the dung-heap of modernity and, like Job, wait for a merciful death?

No, I don’t think we have to. First among all our tasks is that we remain converted and committed to the God of our Fathers, the God of all beauty and all being. And then, naturally and unself-consciously, we will share among ourselves the beauty that we have interiorly experienced.

True Catholic culture has been left to us to create anew and afresh — with precious little reference either to our modern society or even to the clerics panting so faithfully after modernity. We ignore it and them and, taking a tip from the purveyors of the cult of ugliness, we proceed to fill our minds, our hearts, our families, our children, and our world with as much beauty as possible that by dint of the quantity and quality of our efforts there will be no room for that which is inhuman, ungodly, or ugly.

If this sounds like a clarion call back to the catacombs — that we withdraw from our modern culture — then so be it. Yes, that too is heresy in our contemporary Church culture where we are constantly encouraged to engage and embrace the modern world.

But in doing so — as we have seen over these last tragic decades, we stand to gain nothing and lose all in such a poisonous encounter.

But where are those catacombs? Where are those refuges from the human and spiritual horrors of our “Brave New World”? They are in your very homes, your front rooms and bedrooms, your home schools and private academies. That is where the true culture of the New Millennium will take shape, for, undistracted by the pomps and pleasures, the flashy arrogances and fleshy superficialities of the ugly world around us, mothers and fathers can form and mold and guide their children with unadulterated faith and inculcate into their souls every form and example of beauty.

And in isolating and insulating your children from the moral squalor about them, you are only strengthening them in their eventual confrontation with it. Fill the walls of your homes with beautiful art, fill the ears of your family with beautiful music, fill the souls of your children with beautiful stories, and there will be no room left for the insipid, the warped, the ugly, and the faithless. If you can make of your family a little Church, you will not have to be engaging constantly in rear-guard action to counteract the toxins of the media and schools or that of your children’s strange new friends down the block. They will not be forced to unlearn at home the lessons they have just learned outside.

Your families will come to know and appreciate that there is only one thing about which to be busy, around which to revolve, only one thing to cultivate, and that is their souls, the beautiful gift from God. This realization will then help them do beautiful things, create beautiful things, and appreciate all the beautiful things that issue forth from beautiful grace-filled souls.

And if we do this, then, little by little, as modernity continues to die — as surely it must, for is not death its very theme? — it will be replaced by life, in fact a new Culture of Life whose healthy hallmark will be the celebration of the beauty of God in the beauty of the life around us.

Oh, indeed there is a Cult of Ugliness in our society, but it is not our cult and we will have nothing to do with it.