Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catholic business owners win temporary halt to Obama birth control mandate

 

By Terry Baynes | Reuters – Fri, Jul 27, 2012

(Reuters) - A Colorado business owned by a Catholic family does not have to comply with President Barack Obama's new healthcare mandate that private employers provide employees with insurance coverage of birth control, a Colorado federal judge ruled on Friday.

READ MORE HERE:

http://news.yahoo.com/catholic-business-owners-win-temporary-halt-obama-birth-234323692.html

Playing Games with Our Wars and War with Our Games

by John Horvat II

Playing Games with Our Wars and War with Our Games
The object of war is very simple: victory. The combatants engage in a very physical struggle to resolve a crisis that generally has failed by other more diplomatic means. It is a battle where the stakes are high and the life or death of men and the future of nations is in play.

The means employed to secure this victory are many. Nations make use of big assets such as tanks, aircraft and battleships. They make use of technology which includes all sorts of radars, drones, smart bombs and other devices.

However, when push comes to shove, what really decides the outcome of battle is the man on the field. Modern warfare has yet to find a substitute for the infantry soldier who slugs it out with the enemy and is disposed to make the ultimate sacrifice of his life.

In normal times, everyone recognizes that the task of hand-to-hand combat is best done by fighting men trained in the art of war. It is a biological fact that men have the stamina, strength and mindset needed and, if victory is the goal, men should be employed. That is all there is to it.

Afghanistan War Firefight

The task of hand-to-hand combat is best done by fighting men trained in the art of war.

But these are not normal times, what everyone used to take for granted is now up for grabs. There is a concerted push by liberals who decree in the name of equality that women and men are equal in combat. These same liberals, many of whom will never experienced a bullet fired in anger, are rushing to push women into the line of fire. They are demanding that women be thrust into combat, and anyone who dares oppose such a decree is labeled hopelessly sexist. And if the chances of victory be diminished (and soldiers unnecessarily die), so be it!

While the military is rung through the sexist ringer, there is another game in town that is left unscathed by the left and liberal media. The screams for equality are curiously absent.
That game is sports. The object of sports should be very simple: healthy competition. It is a very physical contest to distract and entertain. There are no high stakes involved beyond mere commercial interest or personal prestige.

And yet, as the Olympics are played, no one dares to point out that these international games enjoying all kinds of prestige and praise are absolutely “sexist.” The whole affair is divided right down the middle into the categories of men and women. No one has suggested that nations field non-sexist teams where men and women compete together in any field.

US Olympic Team 2000 Sydney Australia

The Olympic Games are divided right down the middle into the categories of men and women. Olympians know the biological fact that men and women are physically different.

The reason why is obvious. The biological fact is that men and women are physically different and if the competition were left to all comers, save some exceptional Amazon, men would win all the competitions where stamina and physical strength are needed. Indeed, one can go over the lists of Olympic records and verify that in these categories the men’s records are all well above those of women.
Olympians know this biological reality. They don’t play sexist games with their games. In fact, they employ all the seriousness of war to gain victory. They train unceasingly. They study every possible advantage. Unfortunately, some even resort to steroids and other performance enhancers to gain the victory — and commercial endorsements. These latter athletes have turned what should be a source of entertainment and healthy sportsmanship into a savage and commercial enterprise.
It seems the world is upside down. War is war and sports is sports. Why must the double standard of sexist politics get in-between? Isn’t it time we stopped playing games with our wars and stopped playing war with our games?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Children: The Ultimate Stimulus Package

by Gary J. Isbell 

Children: The Ultimate Stimulus Package
According to the reasoning, if it can be called that, of the likes of Margaret Sanger and company, we would all be better off if we reduced the world’s population. “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” the famous feminist once said.[1]

Steven Mosher, head of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute [PRI], happens to see things from a different perspective. That is, we need larger families to address the current financial crisis among other benefits. Higher birth rates and a revised tax code favoring children would do a lot to stimulate depressed economies.

Mosher clearly admits that low fertility rates are not solely responsible for our current economic woes, however they do play a significant role. Every child is born with a mind capable of being educated and myriad talents that can be developed. This combination of qualities can easily be put to use to solve problems and boost productivity. Creating an entitlement mentality generation does not.

The Social Trends Institute published an article titled “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend,” exposing the myth that low fertility rates equal sustainable economic prosperity. [2] It is true that a nation can realize this benefit in the short term, however it is the long term ill effects that we are now realizing in many countries.

An example of this demographic liability is the economic “miracle” of East Asia where the fertility rate plummeted from six children per woman and is now below two. Of course, such a low fertility rate allows for more human and financial capital to be devoted to the market economy rather than to child rearing, thus permitting a country to enjoy higher levels of economic growth in the short term. However, it is now apparent that what once was a demographic asset is rapidly becoming a liability. In over seventy-five countries where the fertility rate is substantially below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, there will be an insufficient young work force available that is needed to sustain the aging population and maintain economic stability.

Traditional marriage influences economies more than one might think. Recent studies clearly indicate that children raised outside of a family comprised of mother and father are significantly less likely to acquire the human and social capital needed to become productive and well-adjusted in the work-force. Those reared in traditionally married families enjoy a greater likelihood of success in grade school, graduate from college and generally are well compensated in employment as adults.

Traditional marriage, coupled with a healthy fertility rate, comprises the ultimate stimulus package. Spending increases “in the United States, [as] married parents (age 18-50) spend markedly more money — on a household and a per-capita basis — on child care, food at home, healthcare, home maintenance, household products and services, life/personal insurance, and pets and toys, compared to single, childless adults of the same age.” Marriage and the Baby Carriage.[3]

If corporations want to increase sales, they should target a healthy demographic that has proven to be a tried and true workhorse. Investing in a fertile future makes more sense than a sterile one. The rainbow crowd will not do anything to perpetuate the healthy profits companies now enjoy in the long term if fertility rates continue to decline and the traditional nuclear family is destroyed.

1.

Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race, Brentano’s, New York, 1922.

2.

http://sustaindemographicdividend.org/articles/the-sustainable-demographic

3.

http://sustaindemographicdividend.org/articles/marriage-and-the-baby-carriage

Friday, July 27, 2012

Did Saint Pantaleon’s blood become liquid this year?

His blood becomes liquid each year, during the 24 hour period before his feast day. 

His name is Saint Pantaleon, and that 24 hour period is today. 

Because his feast day is today, July 27th.

So, did his blood turn to liquid this year?  I’ll try to find out and let you know.  Why is this important? 

Only twice in history has his blood NOT become liquid:

Right before World War I, and right before the Spanish Civil War in 1936. 

So, people evidently worry when the Saint’s blood fails to  liquefy.

 

US Bishops’ org defends giving 25% of 2010 grants to pro-contraception group

by John-Henry Westen

July 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” is vociferously defending its 2010 grant of $5.3 million to CARE.  LifeSiteNews reported July 17 that CARE is a major advocate of contraception and indeed also of legal abortion. The CRS strategy of persistent denial of obvious serious problems regarding its aid partner is not what one would expect from a Catholic agency.

To date, CRS has produced three press releases and a high volume of tweets and emails defending the grant despite the oddity of the Bishops simultaneously fighting the Obama contraceptive mandate. 

In the first of the releases, CRS implied that the donation was approved by well-respected theologian Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Centre.  However upon closer inspection, Dr. Haas’ assessment of the situation was submitted only this year on January 12, 2012 - not at all prior to the 2010 grant.

Moreover, as LSN reported, Dr. Haas’ assessment of the grant was very negative.  He told CRS about their donating to CARE: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”

Beyond this LifeSiteNews has found that the CRS donation to CARE during 2008 and 2009 totaled an additional $3+ million. (2008: $1,802,709 and 2009: $1,399,534)

CRS has taken to rather petty criticisms of LifeSiteNews’ report. For instance in one headline: “John Haas Refutes July 24 LifeSite News Headline: He Did NOT Advise Catholic Relief Services Not To Fund CARE.”  Did Dr. Haas object to our original headline? Yes, but in his polite note, he added that “you quoted me correctly in the article.” 

What was the original headline? John Haas: I advised Catholic Relief Services NOT to fund CARE

And naturally we were happy to comply with Dr. Haas’ wish that it be changed.  It was changed to: John Haas warned Catholic Relief Services “scandal would be unavoidable” with grant to CARE

In his email to LifeSiteNews Dr. Haas explained the reason for the desired change: “I don’t urge our ‘clients’ to do or not do anything. We give them our opinion as to whether the contemplated action would be moral or immoral.  Our task is to do the moral analysis and share it with those in positions of authority who make the decisions and have to assume responsibility for them.”

Various Catholic publications issued reports based on the CRS release defending their massive donation to CARE. Even the Baltimore Sun reported on it.

The gang over at the gay-marriage-endorsing National Catholic Reporter are hopping mad at LifeSiteNews.  Michael Sean Winters writes on his NCR blog: “The parallel magisterium over at LifeSiteNews has taken exception to Catholic Relief Services.”

Winters calls the LifeSiteNews reports “obscene” and “witch hunts” and our writers he refers to as “self-appointed zealots.”

One question many are likely asking is, if the head of CARE is so militantly pro-contraception and pro-abortion, what other negative CARE activities take place that the public is not aware of?

Well, they, like NCR differ on the Christian position on homosexuality. On page 38 of another CARE document, they write: page 40: “Homosexuality is not an illness. Simply put, homosexuality is primary sexual attraction to or sexual activity among persons of the same sex. Homosexuality may make us feel uncomfortable because it’s not something we see all the time. But the fact that it is uncommon does not mean that it is wrong. Homosexuals can have healthy, loving relationships just like anyone else.”

Another question that many Catholics are probably still asking, regardless of the opinions on the CRS/CARE controversy, is this: Are there not other agencies, not requiring such ethical gymnastics to justify continued funding, that these millions of dollars of Catholic money should be going to?

See the National Catholic Bioethics Centre response to this controversy, especially paragraphs 11 and 12.

Unfortunately, since CRS remains determined to spin the news rather than handle the matter in a straightforward way, LifeSiteNews will continue to investigate and report on it’s problematic activities. And sadly, they don’t end with CARE.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Breaking video: Man attacks TFP volunteers, assaults American flag

By Joseph Lee 

Share this video: "Like" it.  Post it. And share it.

 

 

Free speech is less free in Arkansas.  In fact, volunteers with Tradition Family and Property (TFP—Louisiana) were recently attacked in Little Rock during a peaceful rally against Obamacare and its HHS mandate.  The incident occurred on July 17.

Man Targets American flag
At the McCain Mall in North Little Rock, a middle-aged man came up from behind the group as they calmly prayed the rosary. First he said, “Praise be Mary,” giving the impression he was friendly. 

Next he shouted, “Get the hell out of here!” and rushed our American flag bearer Elias Bartel, knocking him off his feet with a violent blow.  Old Glory fell over, but not completely because the 19-foot flag pole caught a power line on the way down and was quickly recovered and set upright again.

“I was pretty shocked…  The first thing he did was target the American flag.  He wanted to throw it on the ground,” said Bartel. “What he did was beyond disrespect.”

Second attack
The attacker did not stop there.  Without pause, he immediately assaulted our second volunteer, Jesus Guerra, who was holding the TFP banner which displays a rampant lion and the motto:  “Tradition, Family, and Property.”  As the video clearly shows, our young volunteer was pushed with such violence that he fell backward onto a fire hydrant.  The banner also fell.  

“I’m bruised, but not about to give up,” Guerra remarked.  “The attacker’s behavior reflects the socialist mindset:  if they can’t win the debate, they bully you. If they can’t silence the Church on moral values, they use mandates and intimidation.”

As TFP—Louisiana member Cesar Franco dialed 911, the assailant smacked the phone out of his hand.  Finally, the police arrived and a report was made.

A woman who witnessed the attack approached and asked for a flyer, Confronting Religious Persecution in America.  She told Zechariah Long how great she thought TFP volunteers responded to the aggressor.  

The 14-member team is currently touring other Southern cities where the reception has been excellent.  Their message alerts the public about the persecution being brought against the Catholic Church by the Health and Human Services mandate and points to the root problem: socialism.

Following the example set by Bishop Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, who called upon Saint Michael the Archangel in the fight for the rights of the Church, TFP—Louisiana volunteers have placed their tour under his powerful patronage.  The attack did not hinder the progress of the TFP caravan. However, it does follow a troubling pattern documented in the video Attacked by “Tolerance.”

If you are an attorney in the Little Rock, and are willing to represent the TFP volunteers who were attacked, please contact Cesar Franco at cfranco@tfp.org

Subscribe to our weekly TFP newsletter for free

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Petition: STAND with the Boy Scouts & oppose pro-homosexual pressure tactics

By William Stover

Boy Scouts of America

Why does the homosexual movement continue to target the Boy Scouts of America with relentless protest?


To STAND with the Boy Scouts, sign your petition here

Two national BSA board members are pressuring the organization to abandon its morally sound membership policy which bars open homosexuals from holding leadership positions.  
Groups and advocates who promote “tolerance” have also collected over 300,000 online petitions” — aided by liberal media publicity — to force the Scouts to accept unnatural vice in their ranks.

However, the Boy Scouts are standing strong by their Oath:  “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country …to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

In fact, the Scouts’ right to uphold moral standards was confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling in 2000.  Shortly before that decision, the Boy Scouts issued this statement:  “We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith reaffirmed that the organization’s exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy.” Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca added:  “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”

Parents understand how public acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle would not only undermine the moral atmosphere of the Scouts, but also increase the risk of sexual abuse.  A study published by the Family Research Council shows that homosexuals, who account for approximately two percent of the population, are responsible for up to one third of child sexual abuse cases.

Please Stand with the Boy Scouts: sign your petition here

Let your voice be heard.  Join millions of Americans who respect moral values, Natural Law and the Ten Commandments.  Please ask 5 of your friends to stand with the Boy Scouts too by signing the petition.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shocked into reality

The tragic event in a Colorado movie theater has shocked Americans back into reality as to how fast our society is unraveling. Many people blame the American economy for our problems; what is really breaking down America is society’s disregard for morality. Consider these recent headlines in the news.

The #1 book on the New York Times fiction best-seller list has been "Fifty Shades of Grey," the erotic novels by E.L. James described as “Mommy Porn.” The sexually explicit trilogy is a phenomenon among young American girls as well as grandmothers in their eighties. 

Since when have you seen stories about human beings eating other humans making the headlines?

Sexting and sexual abuse is rampart in high schools across the country as students seek approval in the wrong places from their classmates and teachers.

With a stagnant U.S. economy, America faces the very real possibility of an economic collapse in the not-too-distant future, but morally we are already scraping bottom. Could there be a link between our economic decline and our disregard for God’s laws?

Our society has become so desensitized that sins that once scandalized us are now accepted as the norm.

The problem is that we are a nation no longer directed by the Ten Commandments and moral teachings of Christ’s Church, but rather by the whims and edicts of socialists and secular humanists.

America boarded the Titanic many years ago and we are now colliding with the “iceberg of moral indifference.” The inability to keep the economic ship afloat may well foretell our demise as a world superpower, but does it also mean we will personally suffer for turning our backs on God?

The Mother of God appeared in Fatima to warn us of all of these dangers; and today She still gives us Her maternal solution on how to avoid the “icebergs” that are fast approaching. She warned that communism was going to be the punishment that God would send mankind if they didn’t stop offending Him.

Now, more than ever is the time to take her counsel’s; the amendment of life and the daily recitation of the rosary for the conversion of sinners. Everyone sees the “icebergs” ahead and for those who claim they don’t see this reality; remember the hardest person to wake up is the one who pretends he is sleeping!

By Walter Camier

St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Catherine of Sweden (right) and her Mother, St. Bridget of Sweden(left). Painting from the Högsby church in Smalandia.

The most celebrated saint of the Northern kingdoms, born about 1303; died 23 July, 1373.

She was the daughter of Birger Persson, governor and provincial judge (Lagman) of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Her father was one of the wealthiest landholders of the country, and, like her mother, distinguished by deep piety.

St. Ingrid, whose death had occurred about twenty years before Bridget’s birth, was a near relative of the family. Birger’s daughter received a careful religious training, and from her seventh year showed signs of extraordinary religious impressions and illuminations. To her education, and particularly to the influence of an aunt who took the place of Bridget’s mother after the latter’s death (c. 1315), she owed that unswerving strength of will which later distinguished her. In 1316, at the age of thirteen, she was united in marriage to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was then eighteen. She acquired great influence over her noble and pious husband, and the happy marriage was blessed with eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden. The saintly life and the great charity of Bridget soon made her name known far and wide. She was acquainted with several learned and pious theologians, among them Nicolaus Hermanni, later Bishop of Linköping, Matthias, canon of Linköping, her confessor, Peter, Prior of Alvastrâ, and Peter Magister, her confessor after Matthias. She was later at the court of King Magnus Eriksson, over whom she gradually acquired great influence. Early in the forties (1341-43) in company with her husband she made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. On the return journey her husband was stricken with an attack of illness, but recovered sufficiently to finish the journey. Shortly afterwards, however, he died (1344) in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastrâ in East Gothland. Bridget now devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism, and to religious undertakings. The visions which she believed herself to have had from her early childhood now became more frequent and definite. She believed that Christ Himself appeared to her, and she wrote down the revelations she then received, which were in great repute during the Middle Ages. They were translated into Latin by Matthias Magister and Prior Peter. St. Bridget now founded a new religious congregation, the Brigittines, or Order of St. Saviour, whose chief monastery, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus and his queen (1346). To obtain confirmation for her institute, and at the same time to seek a larger sphere of activity for her mission, which was the moral uplifting of the period, she journeyed to Rome in 1349, and remained there until her death, except while absent on pilgrimages, among them one to the Holy Land in 1373. In August, 1370, Pope Urban V confirmed the Rule of her congregation. Bridget made earnest representations to Pope Urban, urging the removal of the Holy See from Avignon back to Rome. She accomplished the greatest good in Rome, however, by her pious and charitable life, and her earnest admonitions to others to adopt a better life, following out the excellent precedents she had set in her native land. The year following her death her remains were conveyed to the monastery at Vadstena. She was canonized, 7 October, 1391, by Boniface IX.

Reliquary of Saint Bridget of Sweden at Vadstena Monastery Church.

Vita S. Birgittœ, complied by her confessors PETER OF VADSTENA, and PETER OF ALVASTR in 1373, ANNERSTEDT ed. in Script. rerum Svecicarum medii avi (Upeala, 1871-76), III, Pt. II, 188 sqq.; Vita S. Birgittœ auctore Birgero, archiep. Upsalensi in Acta SS., Oct., IV, 485 sqq.; Vita auctore Bartholdo de Roma (Rome) 495 sqq.; SCHÜCK, Svensk Literatur-historia (Stockholm, 1890), 129 sqq.; HAMMERICH, Den hellige Birgitta og Kirken i Norden (Copenhagen, 1863), German tr. MICHELSEN (Gotha, 1872); BINDER, Die hl. Birgitta von Schweden und ihr Klosterorden (Munich, 1891); RINGSEIS, Leben der hl. Birgitta (Ratisbon, 1890); FLAVIGNY, Ste. Birgitta de Suede (Paris, 1892); JOANN. DE TURRECREMATA, Liber revelationum celestium S. Birgitte de regno Swecie (Rome, 1488, and often reprinted), with notes by GUNDISALVI DURANTI (Rome, 1606); HEUSER (ed.), Revelationes selectœ (Cologne, 1851); KLEMMING (ed.), H. Birgittas uppenbarelser (4 vols., Sotckholm, 1857-62); Certayne reuelacyons of St. Birgitte, with an epistle of St. Bernard (London, s.d.); MEGERLE tr., Birgittæ von Schweden himmlische Offenbarungen (2 vols., Cologne, 1664).

J.P. HIRSCH (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Misconception of Compassion

Painting by Albert Anker

Christian compassion does not oblige one to feel sorry for someone who has what he needs to live in a manner suited to his social level.

Not a few Americans have an aversion to social and economic inequalities. This repulsion arises not so much from philosophical convictions as from a temperamental disposition at the heart of which lies a serious misconception about the nature of compassion.

Such mentalities believe that inequalities, particularly those of a social or economic character, invariably cause suffering in those of lower status. According to this misperception, even those with the means to lead a comfortable life suffer from the fact that others are richer than they. Behind this attitude, one perceives the unspoken presence of a philosophy of envy.

This attitude results from an erroneous interpretation of true Christian compassion in the face of socioeconomic inequalities.

Christian compassion does not oblige one to feel sorry for someone who has what he needs to live in a manner suited to his social level. Christian compassion simply elicits the desire to help those who lack the means to lead a dignified life according to the demands of human nature and their status. Accordingly, there is no reason for someone to feel guilty simply because he is richer or has a higher social standing than others. Nor does having less than others make the upright man suffer; rather, he is satisfied at seeing that others have more than he.

Painting by Michel-Garnier

The higher classes have the duty to shine in the eyes of the lower classes.

The erroneous interpretation of compassion affects some members of the traditional elites in a curious manner. They deem it their duty to disguise their high station, education and splendor. In doing so they misguidedly believe they are fulfilling their Christian duty to prevent others from suffering the humiliation of seeing people who are higher than themselves.

The precise opposite is true. The higher classes have the duty to shine in the eyes of the lower classes. The latter have the right to contemplate the splendor of the higher classes and to be inspired by it. In effect, the condition of the higher classes should stimulate members of the lower classes to improve their own situations. The contemplation of the higher classes can inspire members of the lower classes who are gifted with exceptional talents to aspire legitimately to a higher condition.

Castle Campbell

there are situations in which it is understandable for an aristocracy to retire from public view

This desire must not be confused with the reprehensible “coveting of thy neighbors’ goods” prohibited by the tenth Commandment. Such coveting occurs when someone becomes envious because another person is or has more than he; or when he comes to hate his neighbor and is consumed with a passion to deprive him of what is justly his. Base sentiments like these should not be confused with the noble desire to equal, or even surpass, through diligent effort, the situation one admires in another.

It cannot be denied that there are situations in which it is understandable for an aristocracy to retire from public view. If, for example, the upper classes perceive that the splendor of their social lives will be misunderstood and maliciously manipulated against them, they have the right to maintain a more discreet position in society in accordance with their good judgment.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), American Appendix, pp. 197-1985.

Nobility.org Editorial comment: —

Faced with superiority, one must choose between two attitudes, one virtuous, the other sinful. Admiration or envy. They are irreconcilable opposites.
These very different roads result in two very different families of souls. Those who make admiration the guiding light of their actions and those who wallow deeper and deeper in the mire of envy.
The Church and Christian civilization invite us constantly to the path of admiration.
The egalitarian Revolution invites us at every instant to join it in the mire.
We should have no doubt as to which is the correct path: the path of admiration and virtue.

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Her whole family became saints

St. Macrina the Younger

St. Macrina the Younger (fresco in Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev)

Born about 330; died 379. She was the eldest child of Basil the Elder and Emmelia, the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder, and the sister of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. The last-mentioned has left us a biography of his sister in the form of a panegyric (“Vita Macrinae Junioris” in PG XLVI, 960 sq.). She received an excellent intellectual training, though one based more on the study of the Holy Bible than on that of profane literature. When she was but twelve years old, her father had already arranged a marriage for her with a young advocate of excellent family. Soon afterwards, however, her affianced husband died suddenly, and Macrina resolved to devote herself to a life of perpetual virginity and the pursuit of Christian perfection. She exercised great influence over the religious training of her younger brothers, especially St. Peter, afterwards Bishop of Sebaste, and through her St. Gregory received the greatest intellectual stimulation.

Statue of St. Basil the Great in Prague

On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus. Here, with their servants and other companions, they led a life of retirement, consecrating themselves to God. Strict asceticism, zealous meditation on the truths of Christianity, and prayer were the chief concerns of this community. Not only the brothers of St. Macrina but also St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebaste were associated with this pious circle and were there stimulated to make still further advances towards Christian perfection. After the death of her mother Emmelia, Macrina became the head of this community, in which the fruit of the earnest Christian life matured so gloriously.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

On his return from a synod of Antioch, towards the end of 379, Gregory of Nyssa visited his deeply venerated sister, and found her grievously ill. In pious discourse the brother and sister spoke of the life beyond and of the meeting in heaven. Soon afterwards Macrina passed blissfully to her reward. Gregory composed a “Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection” (peri psyches kai anastaseos), treating of his pious discourse with his dying sister. In this, Macrina appears as teacher, and treats of the soul, death, the resurrection, and the restoration of all things. Hence the title of the work, ta Makrinia (P.G. XLVI, 12 sq.). Her feast is celebrated on 19 July.

J.P. KIRSCH (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Emptying of the Catholic Church in Brazil: A Bitter Fruit of Liberation Theology

by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo

The Emptying of the Catholic Church in Brazil: A Bitter Fruit of Liberation Theology
“Catholics dropped from 93.1% to 64.6% of the population in 50 years”

“Between 1960 and 2010, Brazil saw its share of people declaring themselves Catholic fall from 93.1% to 64.6%”[1] reads the Folho de S.Paulo article based on a report of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

“In a decade, Catholics lose more space to evangelicals”
“Between 2000 and 2010, the Catholic share of the total population fell by 12%; the number of Evangelicals grew by 43% and that of people without religion rose by 10%”[2] reads the online edition of O Estado de S.Paulo.
Curiously enough, these alarming news items do not seem to have alarmed the bishops of Brazil, as we will see.

This drop is not something that happened overnight, taking the Brazilian bishops by surprise, nor was it unpredictable; it is the result of a long process of decay that has only gotten worse over the last decades.

Let us dwell a little on the analysis of the figures, and then investigate the causes of this decline.

“The World’s Largest Catholic Nation”

The First Mass in Brazil by Meirelles

Franciscan friar Henrique Soares celebrates the first known Mass on the American mainland on April 26, 1500.

Brazil was discovered and colonized by Portugal, a Catholic nation. The first Jesuit missionaries were filled with a great zeal for souls. Catholicism marked the whole life of the country which eventually became the largest Catholic nation in the world, not only in absolute numbers but also percentage-wise in relation to other religions.

Until a few decades ago, the growth of Protestantism, spiritism, and Eastern and African-Brazilian religions was rather slow. According to data from the first census conducted in Brazil in 1872, compared with data from the 1970 census, one finds that the proportion of Catholics dropped by only 7.9 percentage points, falling from 99.7% in 1872 to 91.8% in 1970.[3] Yet, academic studies suggest the reason, at least in part, for this increase in non-Catholics was due to immigration.[4]

From 1970 onward, the growth of other religions and the decrease in the number of Catholics markedly accelerated. According to the just-released 2010 census, the percentage of Catholics has fallen to 64.6 %. Therefore, over the last 40 years, the Church has lost almost 30% of its faithful (precisely, 27.2%). Furthermore, the number of practicing Catholics in the same period ranges between 5% and 10%.[5]

Eucharistic Congress, Anhangabaú, São Paulo, 1942

The Eucharistic Congress of 1942 filled the valley of Anhangabaú, the “cradle” of São Paulo.

At the same time, the number of Protestants rose from 6.6% in 1980 to 22.2%, with Pentecostal denominations experiencing the highest growth rate.

Sociological reasons are often given to explain this change in the religious outlook of Brazil. It is claimed that massive migrations from rural areas to city suburbs or the great efforts Pentecostals make to accommodate fallen away Catholics. Such explanations are superficial and do not go to the root of the problem. This is all the more so since Pentecostal Protestant growth has taken place also in rural areas: in percentage terms, the highest Protestant concentration was found in Rondônia (33.8%), a typically rural state in northwestern Brazil.

Liberation Theology: A Mere Coincidence?
Clearly, the underlying reasons that explain the loss of faithful by the Catholic Church are of a religious nature and should be sought in the crisis that has shaken the Church in Brazil (and nearly everywhere).

Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo, Brazil

The Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo, Brazil.

It is no mere coincidence that the accelerated loss of faithful by the Church in the 1970s took place at the same time as the principles of Liberation Theology spread among the Brazilian clergy and episcopate. This “theology” confuses spiritual liberation with political liberation, and seeks the establishment of the “Kingdom of God” on earth with the implantation of an egalitarian socialist society. As a result, many sermons in churches, as well as from mottoes of the bishops’ “Fraternity Campaigns” deal more with class struggle and political and socio-economic reforms than with the Gospel.
Let us take a concrete example. The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) put out a newsletter describing the 2010 Fraternity Campaign in this manner:

Motto: You cannot serve God and Money (Matt. 6:24)
Theme: Economy and Life
General Objective: To collaborate in the promotion of an economy at the service of life, based on the ideal of a culture of peace, with a joint effort of Christian Churches and people of good will, so that all may contribute to the construction of the common good in view of a society without exclusion.[6]

As can be seen, there are no references to eternal life, the salvation of souls, sin, heaven and hell. It uses the purely political language of class struggle, which scares away the faithful who desire to hear about the eternal truths of the Faith. The reference to “a society without exclusion” is based on the Marxist concept that the wealth of the rich is made by excluding or oppressing the poor. (Without wishing to delve further into this matter, let us note in passing the “ecumenical” character of these campaigns, which place the Catholic Church only as one of the “Christian Churches” rather than as the sole Church of Christ. Does this not facilitate proselytizing by Protestant preachers?)
This year’s anthem-hymn of the Bishops’ Campaign has the following stanza:

Take my call for freedom to everyone (Cf. Gal. 5:13)
Where greed generates enslaved brothers,
I want a message that humanizes society
Spoken openly, proclaimed from the roofs.
(Cf. Matt. 10:27)[7]

Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, founder of Liberation Theology

Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. is a Peruvian theologian and regarded as the founder of Liberation Theology.

In short, Liberation Theology is a religious tool at the service of revolution. Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, considered the “father” of this current, introduced it in his 1971 book, A Theology of Liberation in this way:
“In the revolutionary struggle … the Latin American man somehow frees himself from the tutelage of an alienating religion that tends to maintain order.”[8]
By deeming Holy Church as an “alienating religion” (“Religion is the opium of the people,” Marx wrote), liberation theologians and their followers seek to build a “disalienated” church which tends not to “maintain order” but to subvert it.
As a consequence, the faithful, tired of this “disalienated,” revolutionary and

Our Lady of Brazil, Jardim América, São Paulo

Our Lady of Brazil, Jardim América, São Paulo, Brazil.

materialistic religion focused on economic and social issues often end up tragically falling away from the only true Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They go elsewhere to look for words of religious comfort and guidance for their moral life: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou alone hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
Will the Brazilian bishops finally wake up and realize that the primary mission of the Church is to save souls rather than offer solutions to economic and social problems, and even less try to establish an egalitarian society? Or will they remain mesmerized by the utopian mirage of Liberation Theology?

1.

Denise Menchen-Fabio Brisolla, “Católicos passam de 93,1% para 64,6% da população em 50 anos, aponta IBGE” [“Catholics Drop from 93.1% to 64.6% of the Population in 50 Years, says IBGE”] in Folha de S.Paulo, 6/29/2012 online edition. http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/1112382-catolicos-passam-de-931-para-646-da-populacao-em-50-anos-aponta-ibge.shtml

2.

“A fé dos brasileiros” in O Estado de S.Paulo, May 26, 2012, online edition at http://estadaodados.com/html/religiao/

3.

Data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics; “Censo 2010: número de católicos cai e aumenta o de evangélicos, espíritas e sem religião” [“2010 Census: Number of Catholics Drops, that of Evangelicals, Spiritualists and those without Religion Increases”], http://www.ibge.gov.br/home/presidencia/noticias/noticia_visualiza.php?id_noticia=2170&id_pagina=1.

4.

See, for example, Narcizo Makchwell Coimbra (Universidade Federal de Goiás), O protestantismo de imigração no Brasil [Immigration Protestantism in Brazil]: “One of the main factors that contributed to the propagation of the Protestant ideology in the country was the immigration surge in the 19th century.... We have found that one of the most important consequences of immigration Protestantism is the fact that it helped created the conditions that facilitate the introduction of missionary Protestantism in Brazil.” www.congressohistoriajatai.org/anais2007/doc%20(35).pdf

5.

Censo revela que católicos permanecem maioria no Brasil” [“Census Reveals that Catholics Remain a Majority in Brazil”], O SÃO PAULO, July 3, 2012, http://www.arquidiocesedesaopaulo.org.br/?q=node/142144. (in passing, note the still optimistic tone of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of São Paulo.)

6.

Campanha da Fraternidade 2010 – Ecumênica” [“2010 Fraternity Campaign—Ecumenical”], http://www.cnbb.org.br/site/campanhas/fraternidade/2173-historico-das-cfs.

7.

http://cnbb.org.br/site/images/stories/Hinocf2013.pdf.

8.

G. Gutiérrez, Teologia da Libertação, Brazilian edition, Vozes, Petrópolis, 1975, p. 67.

See America Needs Fatima’s new webpage

http://www.americaneedsfatima.org/

Really nice.

Research shows link between contraceptives, higher HIV risks

CWN - July 18, 2012: A Brown University Medical School professor has confirmed “serious concerns” about studies that suggest the use of contraceptives may increase the risk of contracting the HIV virus.

Dr. Timothy Flanigan told the National Catholic Register:

Read more:

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14967

Australian parliamentary inquiry questions confessional seal

CWN - July 17, 2012: A legislative committee in Australia’s state of Victoria is questioning whether the government should honor the confessional seal.

The parliamentary committee is considering new laws to toughen requirements for reporting abuse of children. Soliciting public comments, the committee has prepared a questionnaire that asks whether priests should be required by law to report child abuse mentioned in the confessional. 

Read more: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14959

No More Statues of Che

The Galway City Council scuttled plans to erect a statue to Ernesto "Che" Guevara but the very idea is repulsive to those who know about Guevara's crimes.  Read more:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-brady/no-more-statues-of-che_b_1626162.html

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

U.S. bishops’ relief agency gives $5.3 million to major contraception-providing charity

by John-Henry Westen

A screenshot from one of CARE's documents outlining their enthusiastic support for and provision of contraception.

Co-author Angela O’Brien

July 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the epic battle between the American Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration over being forced to pay for contraceptive coverage, the efforts of the bishops have been undermined time and again by individual Catholics and Catholic entities that support contraception. One major example of this is within the Bishops’ own jurisdiction. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” has recently given millions to an organization that doles out contraceptives, including abortifacient ‘emergency contraception.’

The most recent CRS annual returns (2010) indicate that the largest CRS grant — $5.3 million — went to CARE, an international “relief and development organization,” that actively promotes and provides contraceptives for women in developing countries, and supports pro-abortion groups and legislation.

According to the 2010 990s, CRS gave $5,380,466 to CARE, which is noted on page 86 of the filing.

Noted theologian Dr. William Marshner told LifeSiteNews that he believes the CRS’ funding of CARE is “ghastly.”

“Obviously this expenditure of funds on the part of Catholic Relief Services is an immoral use of the money,” he said.

Human Life International, the largest international pro-life Catholic organization is similarly troubled.  There is “no way to support CARE financially that does not also support the problematic work that they do,” Fr. Shenan Boquet told LifeSiteNews.

The HLI president noted that that CARE has made “‘reproductive health’—which typically includes contraception as well as abortion—a cornerstone of their ‘development’ strategies.” Because the revenues that CARE receives are fungible, he said, any funds given them would automatically support their whole program—including abortion lobbying and contraception.

“We hope that CRS reconsiders its funding for CARE and for other groups who have for some time, whether knowingly or not, set themselves against the Church’s view of the dignity of the human person,” said Fr. Boquet.

When asked if, given the evidence on CARE, CRS would end its partnership with the organization, CRS Communications Director John Rivera said “no.” He indicated that concerns had already been raised and dismissed. 

Rivera told LifeSiteNews that CRS doesn’t so much give the money to the organization as act as a “pass-through” for federal funding to such groups, and that the money is given only to projects in line with Catholic teaching.

However, when asked if CRS would similarly issue ‘pass-through’ funding to Planned Parenthood for a morally neutral project, Rivera replied in the negative.  “We would never partner with Planned Parenthood,” he said.

He explained the difference saying, it’s about “the preponderance of work they do.”  Rivera noted that CRS acts on criteria developed by the U.S. bishops. “We’ve given this a lot of consideration, and there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.”

Marshner, the founding professor of theology at Christendom College, took issue with this rationale:

“Well this is like saying that we will fund an organization that does 50 or fewer assassinations a year, but not one that will commit 50 or more assassinations a year. The idea of such a threshold is preposterous. The only defense would be if a group to whom they had given money incidentally, or rarely, or accidentally, or inadvertently did something immoral with it. But, if the group to whom the money is given has a regular practice of using some of their funds in this way, then it is immoral for a Church organization to give money to that outfit.”

In its Mission Statement, CRS claims to “uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life,” and “embody Catholic social and moral teaching.” In April 2009, CRS senior communications manager, Tom Price, told LifeSiteNews: “We would not fund any [abortion] advocacy organization.” 

Price said at the time that CRS’s official policy “on relationships with organizations that carry out activities counter to Church teaching is that we would not partner or fund them. This is very clear policy at CRS. We are an agency of the Catholic Church and we do not just follow Church teachings, we embrace them.”

However, CARE’s provision of contraceptives is explicit. In a statement on International Women’s Day, the CARE website declared: “…CARE instituted community-based distribution systems to make contraceptives available at clients’ doorsteps”.

While claiming that “CARE does not fund, support or perform abortions,” CARE notes its partnership with leading abortion-provider Marie Stopes International (page 4).

CARE also provides abortifacient emergency contraception. “Together with governments and other partners,” the CARE website states, “we are focusing on emergency obstetric care, family planning (including emergency contraception)…”

In an article titled “A Request for President Obama” on the CARE website, CARE clearly expresses its hostility to anti-abortion legislation: “Thankfully, on Election Day, we did not choose four more years of conservative, unsympathetic leaders. Under the previous administration, we simply made it far too difficult for women outside of the U.S. to access reproductive-health and family-planning services. Case in point: In 1984, the Reagan administration established the Mexico City Policy… because it denies foreign organizations receiving U.S. family-planning assistance the right to use their own non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion or counsel, or even to refer abortion or to lobby for the legalization of abortion.”

HLI President Fr. Boquet called for the immediate defunding of CARE, and for a review of its granting policies.

800 years ago, Alfonso VIII of Castile crushed the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa

St. Raymond of Fitero, the Cistercian warrior abbot & founder of the Military Order of Calatrava.

The Almohads, the new dynasty of Moroccan fanatics who had subdued all the Moslems in al Andalus, launched an all-out attack on the Christians by moving a huge army north into south central Spain. The impetuous Alfonso VIII of Castile, without waiting for reinforcements, attempted to bar the way at Alarcos. On July 18, 1195, his hopelessly outnumbered army was decisively defeated. Since this occurred just a few years after a similar defeat by Saladin at the Horns of Hattin in Palestine, the future of Christendom indeed looked bleak….

Alfonso VIII of Castile

Only the Orders maintained any pressure against the Moslem invaders. The Calatravans, who had lost their garrison at Calatrava, built another one inside the Moslem lines at Salvatierra, complete with a tall bell tower. This infuriated the Moslems, who despised the Christian practice of ringing bells. Finally, raids from Salvatierra and larger incursions by Alfonso VIII and Pedro II of Aragon provoked the Moors to resume hostilities.

Pedro II, king of Aragon by Manuel Aguirre y Monsalbe

Both sides made preparations for a major confrontation. Pope Innocent urged all leaders to resolve the differences that had hampered any coordinated effort in the past and pronounced plenary indulgences for the participants….

Three kings, Alfonso VIII of Castile, Pedro II of Aragon, and Sancho VII of Navarre, heretofore an enemy of the Castilians, led a force of 10,000 knights and 60,000 infantry into the plain near Las Navas de Tolosa to confront an army of perhaps twice that size made up of Berbers, African Negroes, and Andalusians. After two days during which each side evaluated the other’s intentions, the Christians launched a fierce frontal attack that was absorbed by the Moors, who then counter-attacked with more success.

With the battle slowly going against him, Alfonso rallied the Knights of Calatrava and Santiago and charged furiously. The sight of the King flying into the Moslems with his lance lowered and accompanied by a canon carrying the banner of Our Lady inspired the entire front to sweep forward. Moslem resistance collapsed and the battle turned into a rout. The estimate of the Moors lying dead on the battlefield that day ranged as high as 150,000.

Las Navas de Tolosa

Jeremias Wells, History of Western Civilization (n.p., n.d), pp. 249-250.

Nobility.org Editorial comment: —

Certain moments are turning points in History.  In such moments, the decisive leadership of one man can be the tipping point that makes all the difference.
Las Navas de Tolosa was one of these great historical moments and the leadership of Alphonsus VIII of Castile–grandfather of St. Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon–was the intervention that turned what was beginning to look like defeat into one of the most decisive Christian victories ever.
As we celebrate the 800th anniversary of this great battle, we should ponder on how Spain, Portugal, and perhaps much of Christian Europe could have fallen once more under the dominion of Islam, but for one man: a King who risked his life and throne to safeguard Christendom, personally leading the cavalry charge into the thick of the enemy and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Russian and American Birth Rates Have Rapidly Converged

By Mark Adomanis, Although Russia is often portrayed as a demographic nightmare, a "dying bear" that is rapidly receding from the world stage and that is doomed to irrelevance, and the United States is often portrayed as enjoying demographics that are uniquely robust among developed nations, I would argue that the reality is quite a bit more complicated. Although America benefits greatly from immigration, its fertility rate has actually...Read more:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/07/01/russian-and-american-birth-rates-have-rapidly-converged/

US suffering worst drought in 56 years

The United States is experiencing its widest-spread drought in 56 years, according to a release by the nation's meteorological agency.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9404666/US-suffering-worst-drought-in-56-years.html

Noblesse oblige: the Prince of Liechtenstein risks his crown - and defeats the abortion lobby

by J.C. von Krempach, J.D. |

In a previous post we reported about the attempts of the anti-life lobby to leganize abortion in Liechtenstein, a small principality in Central Europe that, as one of the last European countries, maintains a legal ban on abortion.

http://www.turtlebayandbeyond.org/2012/abortion/the-prince-of-liechtenstein-risks-his-crown-and-defeats-the-abortion-lobby/

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tears, a Miraculous Warning

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

On July 21, 1972, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo published a photograph from New Orleans showing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima shedding tears. The report sparked keen interest in the Brazilian public and I think many readers will welcome more information on the topic.

Statue of the International Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima weeps tears in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1972

Statue of the International Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima photographed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1972 miraculously weeping real human tears.

The best source of information on the matter is found in an article with a typical American title: “The Tears of Our Lady Wet my Finger” by Fr. Elmo Romagosa. It was published on July 20 in the Clarion Herald, a New Orleans weekly, distributed in eleven Louisiana parishes or counties.

Go here for a free picture.

The background to this event is universally known. In 1917, Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco had visions of Our Lady at Fatima. The authenticity of these visions was confirmed by the miracle of the sun, witnessed by a whole multitude even as the Virgin spoke to the three children.

In general terms, Our Lady charged the little shepherds to tell the world that she was deeply upset by the wickedness and corruption of men. She warned that if men did not amend, a terrible chastisement would come that would annihilate many nations. Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The Holy Father would have much to suffer.

The punishment could only be avoided if men converted, Russia and the world were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and men did the communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.

                                        *          *          *

In view of the above, a question naturally comes to mind: Were Our Lady’s requests heeded?

In 1942, Pius XI consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lucy said the consecration lacked some characteristics Our Lady had requested. I do not intend to analyze this complex subject here. I simply mention, in passing, that whether Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia was heeded is open to debate.

As for Our Lady’s second request for an amendment of life, it has so obviously been neglected that no further comment is necessary.

Our Lady stated that obedience to her requests was a condition to avoid the apocalyptic punishments that she predicted. Therefore, it is logical that God’s vengeful and purifying wrath should fall upon mankind before it converts and the Reign of Mary is established.

                                        *          *          *

Of the three Fatima children, only Lucy survived beyond her childhood. She was a Carmelite nun in Coimbra. Under her supervision, a sculptor carved two statues that reproduced as closely as possible the facial expression of the Most Holy Virgin as she appeared at Fatima. Both of them were called “pilgrim statues” and have been taken around the world by priests and laity. One was in New Orleans, where it shed tears.


Father Romagosa, author of the abovementioned report, was told of the statue’s tears by Fr. Joseph Breault, M. P., the statue’s custodian. However, he was reluctant to admit the miracle and thus asked Father Breault to call him if any further weeping occurred.

Father Breault noticed moisture in the eyes of the Pilgrim Virgin statue on July 17 and immediately called Father Romagosa, who reached the statue at 9:30 p.m., bringing along photographers and reporters. In fact, they all noticed the moisture in the eyes of the statue, which was soon photographed. Father Romagosa then touched his finger on the moist surface and collected a drop, which was also photographed. According to Father Breault, this was the thirteenth weeping he had witnessed.

At 6:15 a.m. the next morning, Father Breault called Father Romagosa saying that the statue had been crying since 4 a.m. Father Romagosa arrived shortly afterwards. In his words: “I saw much liquid in the statue’s eyes, and a large drop hanging from the tip of her nose.” This drop, so graciously hanging, was captured in the famous photograph that came out in the press.
Father Romagosa adds that he saw “a tear move as it slowly formed on the lower eyelid.”

However, he wanted to eliminate all doubt. He noticed that the statue had a crown fixed on its head by a small metal connecting rod and thought:

Can it be that water was poured into the hole where the crown is fixed on the statue, and this water drains into the eyes?

Once the weeping ceased, Father Romagosa removed the crown from the statue: the metallic connecting rod was entirely dry. He then inserted into the hole a wire wrapped in a special paper which would absorb any liquid that might be there. The paper remained absolutely dry.

Still not satisfied with his efforts, he poured some water into the hole. Yet the eyes remained absolutely dry. Father Romagosa then turned the statue upside down. The water he had poured into the hole drained normally. He was finally convinced that no water could come through the hole in the statue’s head into her eyes, and there simply was no other hole.

Father Romagosa knelt. At last, he believed.

                                         *          *          *

These mysterious tears show Our Lady of Fatima crying over the modern world, as Our Lord once cried over Jerusalem. Tears of most tender affection, tears of deep pain for the punishment that will come.

It will come to the men of the twentieth century, if they do not reject immorality and corruption. It will come if they do not fight especially against the self-destruction of the Church, the cursed smoke of Satan that according to Paul VI has penetrated even into the sacred places.

Reader, there is still time, therefore, to stop the punishment!

                                       *          *          *

But, some will say, these thoughts are not those for a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I answer: Is it not better to read this article now under the tender manifestation of our Mother’s prophetic sadness than to live through the days of tragic bitterness that will come if we do not amend?

If they come, I am convinced a special mercy will be shown to those who, in their personal lives, have taken the miraculous warning of Mary seriously.

I offer my readers this article so they may benefit from that mercy.

Go here for a free picture.

Pope: Church must preach what God says not what people want to hear

by John-Henry Westen

VATICAN CITY, July 16, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a homily delivered in the town of Frascati in Italy Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI noted that the Apostles were called by Christ to preach the truth even if people don’t want to hear it.

He said:

Jesus sends them out two by two and gives them instructions. ... The first instruction concerns the spirit of detachment: the Apostles must not be attached to money and comforts. Jesus warns the disciples that they will not always receive a favourable welcome: at times they will be rejected, and may also be persecuted. But that should not affect them: they must speak in the name of Jesus and preach the Kingdom of God, without worrying about success. They must leave the outcome in the hands of God.

Reflecting on the reading concerning the prophet Amos, the Holy Father added: “But, whether accepted or rejected, Amos continued to prophesy, preaching what God says and not what people wanted to hear.” 

Addressing our current times, the Pope said, “This remains the mandate of the Church: she does not preach what the powerful want to hear. Her criterion is truth and justice, even if that garners no applause and collides with human power”.

In North America today, the Christian Church is challenged in the most extreme way in this regard by the issue of homosexuality.

There is no other topic, abortion and contraception included, which has made for more gun-shy Church, political and institutional leadership.  And that is quite understandable given the current obsession with homosexuality and all things relating to it by the media and so many of the institutional elites.

For nearly 20 years the labels of ‘hater’ and ‘bigot’ have been cast upon all those who would dare to question the homosexual lifestyle.  Christian Mayors have been lambasted and fined for refusing to declare gay pride days; businesses fined and even shut down for refusing their services to homosexual activists. Teachers and sportscasters who dared - on their own time - object to homosexual ‘marriage’ were turfed from their jobs. And now information and news services threatened for daring to report straight facts on situations that may not be complimentary to certain homosexuals.

Christian institutions, especially schools, have been targeted.

Very good men, leaders in the Church, even those who have stood up strong in the fight against abortion have shied away from the matter of homosexuality.  Even when confronted with it head-on the preference has been to side step the fight with conciliatory stances.

During the Canadian ‘marriage’ battles back in 2003-2004, prior to the passage of same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation in 2005, the Ontario Bishops regularly consulted a diverse advisory group of lay people for advice on how to confront the issue.  Some of the advisers - a minority - warned that the whole issue was really about normalization of homosexuality rather than marriage.  Thus, in order to address the heart of the issue, the bishops were compelled to raise the long ignored subject of the harm of homosexual acts. But they declined to do so.

In some 80 public interventions, from that time until the passage of same sex ‘marriage’, the Ontario Bishops decided to avoid in nearly every case the hard issue of homosexuality. Rather, they spoke in glowing terms about the goodness of heterosexual marriage.  It seemed it would be just too costly in public relations, or too uncomfortable,  to address the subject of homosexuality head-on.

A repeat of the scenario has occurred in Ontario regarding the government’s imposition of ‘gay-straight alliance clubs’ on Ontario Catholic high schools.  From the outset, parent groups were warning the Ontario Bishops that the agenda had little to do with ‘anti-bullying’ and everything to do with forcing normalization of homosexuality in Catholic schools.

The Bishops, however, in many interventions and countless meetings spoke only about their common goal with the government in opposing bullying.  They took at face-value the claims of the McGuinty government rather than noting the warned about underlying agenda.  For those listening closely to the noises coming from the politicians themselves that agenda was painfully clear.

Once, in a statement outside of that heated debate in Ontario, the national bishops’ conference came out with a statement on the matter of homosexuality which requires commendation. It was called, Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction

However, when asked directly by reporters about homosexuality, the lead bishop on the ‘anti-bullying’ fiasco refused to answer.  Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, only replied that the matter was too complex to explain in a media interview.
Remember who this man is.  He is the same bishop who took the bull by the horns when it came to denouncing abortionist Henry Morgentaler being awarded the Order of Canada; the same bishop who laudably took Development and Peace to task over supporting pro-abortion groups. 

Are Christians lacking a well-worded way to present Christ’s teachings on homosexuality to our modern culture? We’ve been in this battle for four decades. It’s time to get our talking points in order and face this issue, that clearly cannot be avoided, head on.

Perhaps just speaking the truth in charity and leaving the outcome to the Holy Spirit is all that is necessary. The truth on this issue IS charity - to everyone, Catholic, non-Catholic, and non-Christian. It benefits our entire society.

In words very similar to those the Pope used yesterday, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, upon his departure from Canada for Rome in 2010 gave an interview wherein he outlined what is needed in a good bishop. Bishops, he said, “need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received.”  He added, “We have to dare to speak to the deep heart, where the Spirit of the Lord is touching people beyond what we can calculate.”

Vietnamese Catholics demonstrate despite government threats

CWN - July 16, 2012

Thousands of Catholics joined in public demonstrations in the Vinh diocese on July 15, protesting government-sponsored violence against Catholics and the desecration of a church.  Read more here:

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14934

Monday, July 16, 2012

When a picture of Our Lady is the difference between heaven and hell

The Power of a Picture
Catherine Ferdinand123

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She said excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?”

As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22 years old young son who had recently passed away after being in the hospital for about three weeks due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.

During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima her friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing. She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of her son’s stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.” Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men.

After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring the priest for me. I want to receive the sacraments.”

A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and save a soul.

How Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Started

Mount Carmel in our times

Mount Carmel comes to memory as the biblical site where the prophet Elias battled the 450 priests of Baal in a public spiritual contest which led to their defeat and ruin as Scriptures aptly recorded. (1 Kings 18:19-40). It was also here where Elias sent his servant seven times to the mountaintop to look for rain after years of drought which ended as he proclaimed, "Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man's foot." (1 Kings 18:44).

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

We can find Mount Carmel on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, overlooking the modern-day city of Haifa. It rises 1742 feet above sea level and towers above the Mediterranean coastline and its limestone rocks form a cliff-like landscape. The name "Carmel" means, in Hebrew (Hakkarmel [with the definite article], "the garden" or "the garden-land" because of its renowned lush and verdant beauty during ancient times. (Isaiah 35:2) It is known for its cover of flower blossoms, flowering shrubs, and fragrant herbs. Such was its charm and appeal that it was compared to the beauty of the bride in Solomon’s song. (Song of Songs 7:5)

Nowadays it comes in various names as Antelope-Nose, Har Karmel, Holy Headland, Jebel Kurmul, Mar Elyas, Mount of User, Rosh-Kedesh.

Origin of Invocation

The title of Our Lady of Carmel can be traced back to the hermits who used to live in the renowned and blessed mountain at the time of the Old Testament. There, this pious and austere community prayed in expectation of the advent of a Virgin-Mother who would bring salvation to mankind much like the holy prophet Elias who ascended Mount Carmel to pray to God for the salvation of the Israel which was suffering a terrible drought at that time.

Elias "went up to the top of Mt. Carmel, and casting himself down upon the earth put his face between his knees." (1 Kings 18:42). He persevered in prayer, and as previously mentioned above, sent his servant several times to the mountaintop to see any sign of foreboding rain. Elias, never wavering in his confidence, received the good news on the seventh try, "Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man's foot." (1 Kings 18:44) Soon thereafter, torrential rains fell upon the parched land and the people of Israel were saved.

A Prefigure of Our Lady

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. It became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without suffering its stains.[1]

Based on the L’Institution Des Premieres Moines, a text most singularly representative of the spirit of Carmel and of its most ancient and quintessential mystical traditions, Elias would discern from that cloud four secrets from God concerning the birth of Our Lady:[2]

1. The Immaculate Conception – because the Virgin would arise as a cloud out of the salty water of a guilty humanity, having the same nature of that water but without its bitterness.

2. The Virginity of Mary similar to that of Elias – because, if she "arose out of Mount Carmel" and "like a man’s foot," this means she would follow the path of Elias, who ascended Carmel through voluntary virginity.

3. The time of the Virgin’s birth – because as Elias’s servant saw the cloud on his seventh try so would the world witness the advent of the Virgin in the seventh age of the world.

4. The Virginal Maternity – because, in that little cloud, God would come down like sweet rain, "without noise of human collaboration," that is, without violating her purity.

The Spirit of Elias and the Carmelite Order[3]

Elias led a hermetic life on Mt. Carmel with special veneration for the Most Holy Virgin. His disciple Eliseus, who received his mantle, and other followers, known as Sons of the Prophet as Holy Scriptures described them, participated in his solitude and became filled with his strength and spirit. In a holy hereditary succession, they passed on his spirit and strength to others.

Through the continuous propagation of the above practice, the foundation and development of the Carmelite order began to take root. This we learn from tradition, liturgy, works of various authors and several bulls addressed to the Carmelite Order by Popes John XXII, Sixtus IV, Julius II, St. Pius V, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V and Clement VIII.

One beautiful passage from a private revelation to a mystic relates that after the High Priest of Jerusalem had announced that St. Joseph was to be the husband of Our Lady selected by Our Lord Himself, "the young man from Bethlehem joined the hermits of Elias on Mount Carmel and continued to pray fervently for the Messias.[4]

The first church in honor of Our Lady in the Christian era

According to a long held and pious tradition, backed by Church Liturgy, a group of men devoted to the prophets Elias and Eliseus embraced Christianity on the day of Pentecost. They had been the disciples of St. John the Baptist, who prepared them for the coming of the Redeemer.

This band of faithful left Jerusalem and settled on Mt. Carmel. There they erected a church dedicated to Our Lady on the same spot where Elias saw the little cloud which symbolized both fertility and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. They adopted the name of Friars of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel. [5]

Controversy still unsettled

However, in 1668 a Belgian Bollandist and Jesuit hagiographer, Daniel Van Papenbroek, dismissed the above story as fable or legend for lack of concrete evidence in the March volumes of the Acta Sanctorum. A bitter controversy arose that dragged for years eventually reaching Rome in 1698. Innocent XII issued a decree imposing silence over all concerned parties until a definitive pronouncement could be reached – which was never formally realized to date.

Nevertheless, in 1725 Benedict XIII granted permission to the Carmelites, in an apparent show of support and approval, to erect in St. Peter's among the statues of founders of Orders and patriarchs, one of Elias with his own inscription fashioned to the effect that the Carmelites have done so to honor their founder St. Elias the prophet. [6]

Be as it may, in spite of the cloud of mystery and controversy surrounding these beginnings, the Carmelite Order has always claimed Elias as its own and has seen in him as one who laid the foundations of the eremitic and prophetic life that formed part of its character.

Establishing spiritual continuity and Marian character

It would take several centuries before historical and documental proof could be gathered as to the existence of hermits on Mount Carmel with spiritual links to the prophet Elias. The first concrete text dates back to 1177 through the writings of the Greek monk John Phocas.[7]

The monastic-style spirituality were practiced and observed on Mt. Carmel through the pioneer efforts of St. Berthold of Mount Carmel, who may have come to the Holy Land from Limoges, France as a pilgrim to visit Elias’ cave, or as crusader who engaged in battle. He gathered other hermits from the West who were scattered throughout Palestine at that time to form a community imbued with the spirit of Elias. St Berthold organized them as cenobites, a monastic tradition that stresses community life under a religious rule.

These first monks who retired to Mount Carmel in 1150 made their center a chapel consecrated to our Lady and from the time of Saint Brocard, successor to St. Berthold and the first Prior General, the nascent Carmelites were to be known as Brothers of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Thus devotion to Our Lady formed a distinctive part of their character and spirituality. "Despite its historical inexactitudes L'Institution DesPpremiers Moines shows that the Order is dominated by the two great figures which represent, on different levels, its ideal: Elias and our Lady."[8]

The Carmelite Rule

St. Brocard championed the cause to have the monastic spirit which they had received from their predecessors be laid down in a holy Rule. Around 1210, it was given to the Order by St Albert, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and later finally approved and authorized by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. The primitive Carmelite rule initially contained sixteen articles and later underwent some modifications.

St. Simon Stock and the Scapular

Any account on the story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel could not fail to mention the role that St. Simon Stock played especially in relation to the brown scapular. We could trace Simon Stock’s origin to the County of Kent in England where he was born around 1165. Being of English descent, he was also known as Simon Anglus.

In the thirteenth century, during the era of the Crusades, he joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel who claimed to be the successors of Elias while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As the situation became too precarious for them due to Saracen threats, the community moved and settled in Aylesford, England. In 1247, at 82 years old, Simon was elected the sixth superior-general of the Carmelites at the first chapter held there. He instituted reforms to best suit Western conditions and the cenobitical rather than the eremitical way of life. As such, the community came to be regarded eventually as a mendicant order along with the Dominicans and the Franciscans.

However, the order had difficulty gaining general acceptance and suffered much persecution and oppression from secular clergy and other orders which prompted the monks to have recourse to the Blessed Virgin in the year 1251.

Tradition says that Our Lady responded to their call through an apparition to Simon Stock on Sunday July 16th, 1251 as he knelt in prayer. She appeared holding the Child Jesus in one arm and the brown scapular in the other hand while uttering the following words: "Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hoc habitu moriens salvabitur" (This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.) On 13 January 1252 the Order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from harassment.

St. Simon Stock lived a holy life for 100 years and died in the Carmelite monastery at Bordeaux, France on May 16, 1265.

The Brown Scapular

The scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, also known as the Brown scapular, is one of the most popular and celebrated of Roman Catholic devotions. The sacramental as the lay faithful commonly use it is a miniature derivative of the actual brown scapular used by the Carmelites -the sleeveless outer garment falling from the shoulders which is worn as a sign of their vocation and devotion.

As was mentioned, Our Lady gave St. Simon a scapular for the Carmelites with the following promise, saying : "Receive, My beloved son, this habit of thy order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire …. It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace."

The Sabbatine Privilege

Attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular is the Sabbatine Privilege. The name Sabbatine Privilege originates from the apocryphal Bull "Sacratissimo uti culmine" of John XXII, 3 March, 1322. The papal document declares that the Mother of God appeared to him, and most urgently recommended to him the Carmelite Order and its confratres and consorores.[9]

According to Pope John XXII, the Blessed Virgin gave him the following message in a vision related to those who wear the Brown Scapular: "I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday (Sabbath) after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting."

Based on Church tradition, three conditions need to be fulfilled to obtain the benefits of this Privilege and the Scapular:

1. Wear the Brown Scapular,

2. Observe chastity according to one’s state in life,

3. And pray the Rosary.

In order to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a lay person who has been given this faculty. Once enrolled, no other Scapular need be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the wearer for life.

Feast Day

The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, "Kal. Mar.", 30 Jan. "Summa Aurea", III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587.[10]

Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Lourdes and Fatima

As if in a gesture of approval and blessing, the Queen of Heaven and Earth chose to make her last apparition at Lourdes on July 16th 1858, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Likewise, one cannot fail to recall Sister Lucia’s account while describing the vision of October 13, 1917 at Fatima: "…it seemed to me I saw Our Lady in a form similar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel." [11]

Thus through the centuries Our Lady of Mount Carmel kept a constant watch over her children, ever solicitous to intercede for them and lead them to Her Divine Son. Amidst the sea of chaos, confusion and impiety raging in the world today, may Our Lady of Mount Carmel grant us strength and fortitude so we may all remain faithful to Her Son and His Holy Church.

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel


Notes

[1] Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Preface and Epistle. [back to text]
[2] O’Toole, George, "The Religious Order that Defies History," Crusade for A Christian Civilization Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 1978, p. 20 [back to text]
[3] O’Toole, George, ibid, pp. 20-21 [back to text]
[4] Brown, Raphael, The Life of Mary As Seen By The Mystics, Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1991, p.65 [back to text]
[5] Nossa Senhora do Monte Carmelo - Devoção mariana que remonta ao Profeta Elias, Pagina Marianas blog, http://paginasmarianas.blogspot.com/2007/11/nossa-senhora-do-monte-carmelo-devoo.html, last visited June 9, 2010 [back to text]

[6] Lea, Henry Charles, A History of Auricular Confessions in the Latin Church, Philadelphia: Lea Brothers and Co., p. 262. On-line copy accessed on June 10, 2010 at: http://bit.ly/aeNSJf [back to text]

[7] De la Croix, Paul Marie, O.C.D., "Carmelite Spirituality," http://carmelitesofeldridge.org/spirit.html, last visited: June 9, 2010. [back to text]
[8] Francois De Sainte-Marie, La Regle du Carmel et son esprit, Edition du Seuil, 1949, p. 33 [back to text]
[9] New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13289b.htm [back to text]
Last visited June 2010.
[10]New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10604b.htm [back to text]
Last visited June 11, 2010
[11]Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima: A Message More Urgent then Ever, Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property-TFP, 2008, p. 82 [back to text]