Saturday, May 31, 2014

China still targeting and murdering religious minorities for illegal organ ‘donations’: Expert

by Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO, May 30, 2014 ( – China’s forced organ harvesting program, which particularly victimizes practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, is continuing unabated, says a prominent Canadian human rights lawyer.

David Matas spoke Wednesday evening at the University of Toronto. Along with former member of Parliament David Kilgour, Matas has been at the forefront of drawing international attention to the organ harvesting program. Together, they authored the book Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.

Chinese organ harvesting came to the world’s notice when a Chinese woman revealed in 2006 that her ex-husband had harvested corneas of Falun Gong practitioners between 2003 and 2005. She said other doctors at the same hospital harvested other organs of these victims, first killing Falun Gong and then cremating their bodies.

The fact that victims were dead and their remains incinerated made investigation difficult, said Matas, yet he went forward using strict terms for collecting evidence. He and Kilgour concluded Falun Gong practitioners were indeed being killed for their organs.

Released prisoners told investigators that China had a system of blood testing and organ examination specifically for Falun Gong prisoners. Further suspicions were aroused by the fact that the time period in China for receiving organs was unusually short – days or, at most, weeks, whereas normally the waiting period would be months. Military hospitals of the People's Liberation Army had close connections to the prison system, making a huge income from the transplants.

Following the revelations, the Chinese government moved to enact more secrecy while claiming publicly that any organ donations were strictly voluntary in nature. Later, in the face of damaging evidence, the regime admitted organs were indeed obtained, mainly from prisoners.

Matas identified discrepancies between Chinese transplant numbers and sources, indicating other unrevealed sources were being used. To keep up with demand, the Chinese government would have to obtain organs from about 100,000 people a year.

The Chinese Communist regime has attempted to deflect international condemnation of its practices with either rudeness or charm, said Matas. On the one hand, it will decry “outsiders imposing Western values on China”; on the other, it would pledge to change, ask for more time, and plead for assistance.

“Hypocrisy comes easy to the [Communist] party,” Matas noted. “The party never applies the law to itself.”

Although a leading Chinese official declared in 2009 that “prisoners are not an appropriate source for organs,” the abuse has never stopped. The regime has developed a “lingering execution method,” the use of special medications, to ensure organs are in prime condition for harvesting.

Meanwhile, investigators calling hospitals pretending to be in need have been told Falun Gong organs are indeed for sale.

Matas observed these pledges are obviously a sham as they are issued in English only, for international, not domestic, consumption. The government’s promotion of Chinese transplant “tourism” continues. The efforts to end harvesting, Matas concluded, have gone nowhere.

In a question-and-answer session, Matas encouraged Canadians to continue drawing attention to the situation and writing letters to their political representatives. He stopped short, however, of calling for boycotts or isolation of the Chinese Communist regime.

Ethan Gutmann, a U.S. author, estimates as many as 65,000 Falun Gong have been killed for their organs. More details on the investigations into Chinese forced organ harvesting, including an updated Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, are at Kilgour’s website:

The forced organ harvesting phenomenon is just one of the many known crimes perpetrated by the Chinese Communist regime, which counts a one-child-per-family policy, forced abortions, religious repression, censorship, espionage and, of course, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre among its many dubious accomplishments.

Yet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to cozy up to the regime, saying two years ago after a five-day visit to China: “I think this really is a trip that is really moving us to a totally new level in our relationship, one that is going to be very good for both of our countries, particularly good for the creation of jobs and opportunities in the future.”

Harper also cited “the degree of commitment that the Chinese really do have and the optimism that they have for the (Canada-China) relationship going forward.” The Globe and Mail newspaper observed the Harper visit was “heavy on trade, light on human rights.”

ExxonMobil votes against expanding pro-homosexual employment policy for the 17th time

by Kirsten Andersen

IRVING, TX, May 30, 2014 ( – Homosexual activists are outraged after ExxonMobil once again refused to explicitly include sexual preference in its anti-discrimination policy, marking the 17th time the company has done so.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has led the charge to add sexual preference to the gas company’s equal opportunity policies, which currently state that individuals employed by or seeking employment with the corporation will be evaluated without regard to “race, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship status, age, genetic information, physical or mental disability, veteran or other legally protected status.”

ExxonMobil argues that their “zero-tolerance” standards for discrimination already exceed federal regulations and apply equally to every worker, regardless of sexual preference. The company has also offered full benefits to legally “married” same-sex couples since the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2012.

But homosexual activists say it’s not enough for ExxonMobil to simply declare all discrimination out-of-bounds: they want homosexuals and transgender people specifically highlighted as off limits.

“Over fifty years of practical experience has firmly established that there is heightened sensitivity to discrimination only when categories are enumerated,” Fred Sainz, spokesman for the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign, told the gay news outlet The Washington Blade. “If ExxonMobil is as committed to zero-tolerance as they claim, there’s simply no reason to have fully-inclusive policies. Until then, their commitment to equality will rightly be questioned.”

Some gay activists have called on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order forcing the company to comply with their demands.

“An executive order by President Barack Obama would force Exxon Mobil to adopt LGBT workplace protections in order to continue profiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts,” said homosexual activist Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work. “Exxon’s leadership has rejected these common-sense nondiscrimination policies year after year, even though their competitors at Chevron and BP understand that banning discrimination is good for business. It’s time for presidential leadership to move Exxon to accept the American value that everybody deserves a fair shot in the workplace.”

ExxonMobil reports that only 19.5 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal to add sexual preference to the company’s non-discrimination policy at their annual meeting Wednesday.

That’s less than last year, and continues a three-year downward trend in the number of shareholders expressing support for the move.

Friday, May 30, 2014

U.S. fertility plummets to record low

Study finds fewer teen pregnancies and women waiting longer to have children

From the Washington Times:  American fertility has reached a record low, driven by falling birthrates among teens and women in their early 20s, the federal government says in a new report being released Thursday.

The number of teen births in 2013 — 274,641 — was the lowest number ever reported for the United States, researchers said in their report on preliminary birth data for 2013

Overall, America’s total fertility rate fell to just 1.86 births per woman, the lowest since 1986 and a 1 percent decrease from 2012.  Read more:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Father’s Day Special -- Book Giveaway

You’ll get a copy of An American Knight at absolutely no cost with a purchase of Return to Order at a 15% discount. 

Only $18.65.  No shipping fee either.

Click here to order.

These two books express and explain honor in a magnificent way.  

And your father will love that you honor him with books written by honorable men.  

He will be delighted to read about the rule of honor, the real solution to our nation’s crisis.   

Delivery guaranteed for orders placed before June 2. 

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First, let me tell you about honor and the book Return to Order.

The author has a passion for honor.  His name is John Horvat II, and he spent nearly twenty years in prayer and study to write Return to Order.  

In his book, John shows how the rule of money has built a culture of unrestraint, where people gratify their senses, but not their souls.  This creates a big void inside.  

And that void doesn’t last.  It must be filled with something.  Good or evil.

In Return to Order, John shows how to fill the void with honor, which is also the best way to reverse the harm done by the rule of money. 

Second, honor and the book An American Knight.

The author, Norman Fulkerson, tells the fascinating life story of Marine war hero and legend, Colonel John Ripley.  

Ripley practiced honor on and off the battlefield.  His courage in opposing immoral behavior in the military, was not inferior to his bravery in fighting communists in Vietnam.

The pages of An American Knight overflow with honor.

Father’s Day Special -- Book Giveaway

And you get a copy of An American Knight at no cost when you purchase Return to Order at a 15% discount.  Plus, there’s no shipping cost.  

That’s only $18.65.  Delivery guaranteed for orders placed before June 2. 

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But what exactly is honor?  

Well, in a nutshell, honor is our tribute to excellence.  It’s when we esteem excellence, truth and beauty, and reject ugliness, deceit and evil.

And how can the rule of honor unseat the rule of money?

Because when honor is spread throughout all levels of society, the rule of money loses its attraction. 

See, where honor rules, the influence of money fades.  Institutions and families uphold their good names.  Culture flourishes.

Most importantly, honor makes us good Americans. 

Dishonor, on the other hand, has built a rule of money that destroys morals and trust.  If unchecked, dishonor will soon cause America’s economic meltdown.  

If you want to help fix America, adopt a rule of honor.  And please give John’s book Return to Order as a Father’s Day gift.  And get a copy of An American Knight for absolutely no cost.

Delivery guaranteed for orders placed before June 2. 

To get a copy of Return to Order at a 15% discount click here.  

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That’s only $18.65.   And please remember -- you get a complimentary copy of the book An American Knight when you place your order.

These two books express and explain honor in a special way.  Your father will be impressed, just as I am

See what others say about Return to Order:

Return to Order offers a synthesis of Catholicism’s invaluable contribution to the building of a humane and ordered society in which the human person can flourish. When culture, economy, polity, and religion form an ethical whole, children, families, businesses, religious communities and individuals find their fulfillment through making their contribution to the common good. Return to Order shows us a clear way out of the current cultural crisis which besets the great human project.”

— Most Reverend Donald J. Hying

Auxiliary Bishop

Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Return to Order provides an interesting analysis of how the United States has departed from the spiritual, cultural, and economic precepts that supported the founding and the early history of our republic. It also sets forth valuable recommendations for restoring our society to its foundation of ordered liberty and traditional values.”

— The Honorable Edwin Meese III

Former Attorney General of the United States

“This is a timely and important book as our nation faces one of the most critical challenges in its history. Overcoming the economic disaster America is facing cannot be solved simply through economic policy. Americans and their leaders must put in place policy that will restore values, work ethics, and, as the author points out so well, honor. As a career military officer, honor was the most important attribute to me and my fellow soldiers. Restoring honor to our economic landscape will put the nation on the path to recovery.”

—  Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon USA (Ret.)

Former Commanding General, United States Army Pacific

“By calling the reader to embrace the cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude, Return to Order suggests a practical pathway to avoid the economic and spiritual crises that are looming before us and, by means of religious conversion, reestablish a right order for human flourishing. I hope that this work will receive the attention it so deserves.”

— The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

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“John Horvat succinctly describes the condition, history, diagnosis and prognosis of our current economic crisis. The economic chaos or peril is only symptomatic of the bigger and more crucial issue of a CULTURAL CRISIS. His terminology of FRENETIC INTEMPERANCE is brilliant. This is not an apologia to retreat from the world nor is it an attempt to turn back the clock, so to speak. It is a coherent explanation of the sitz-im-leben we find ourselves. Only an ORGANIC CHRISTIAN SOCIETY can save Europe and America from the same oblivion that doomed the Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Western Civilization is rooted in the JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN ethos. No philosophical or economic theory can provide what an organic Christian society alone creates and supports. Not Socialism, not Communism, not Fascism and not unbridled, unrestricted and unlimited Consumeristic Capitalism. Horvat, like Fr. Sirico, shows that a Free Market makes sense and conforms to the Natural Moral Law but must also be constrained and governed by it as well. I highly recommend this book.”

— Rev. Dr. John Trigilio

Author and President, Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

“Return to Order is a refreshing breath of air in a time of economic and political distress. It reminds us of those basic and foundational institutions and practices that helped shape the generations of our fathers and mothers. And, it reminds us that we can be successful and solve the issues America is currently facing without terse political discourse, but with a strong Church, strong family and strong community. Horvat’s Return to Order is much like his book jacket illustration, a beacon on a hill enlightening the way for readers in a time of American uncertainty.”

Congressman Lou Barletta,

U.S. House of Representatives, serving Pennsylvania’s 11th District.

“I am so impressed at how deeply Return to Order plumbs the American soul, and with 36 years of experience in the financial industry, I do appreciate how much our collective journey as a nation interfaces with our economic cycles. Horvat’s fabulous analysis of our present crisis can and should be a most important instrument in reshaping the educational foundations of our youth, preparing them for leadership in the foremost country of the Western Hemisphere.”

— David S. Miller

Senior Vice President, Operations Manager, US Bank

“In his penetrating analysis of contemporary society, author John Horvat focuses on our cultural and economic crises with insight and clarity.”

— Legatus Magazine

“The depth of knowledge and originality of Horvat’s analysis, plus the scope and inspiration of his vision for a true solution to our current economic crisis, make Return to Order worthy of becoming the bedside book for those who believe America is worth fighting for.”

— Joseph M. Scheidler

National Director, Pro-Life Action League

“In an intellectually compelling and practical way, Return to Order reminds us that economy and religion are deeply connected, and that, with the family at the center, we can hope to be freed from the frenzy in which our society finds itself. I highly recommend this book.”

— Fr. Frank Pavone

National Director, Priests for Life

President, National Pro-life Religious Council

“The central theme of frenetic intemperance is original, interesting, and compelling. The diagnosis of contemporary social maladies must focus on moral failings, and Return to Order rightly does so. Its insightful thesis deserves wide circulation and consideration.”

— Kevin E. Schmiesing, Ph.D.

Research Fellow at Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality

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Return to Order is a clear, engaging read that, by delineating some fundamentals of the natural order, will empower you to spot many of today’s disorders—even some you may have unconsciously bought into. Such was my experience… I was enlightened…. We are moving forward in time to a society more like times long past. Just as the sexual revolution gradually is making clearer the truth and wisdom of the Church on matters socio-sexual so too the greed and envy revolution of the marketplace will drive mankind back to the truth and wisdom of the Church on the political economy. The needs of the global village economy (freedom, flexibility within a just order) provide many opportunities for resurrecting many good norms of order that flourished in the Middle Ages. It is an intriguing prospect. The book is interesting, clear and enlightening.”

— Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow and Director, Marriage & Religion Research Institute

“Like the true cultural conservative he is, John Horvat takes on the idols of technological, economic, and political power. These powers exacerbate the human tendency toward frenetic intemperance. Return to Order demonstrates that we must be ever vigilant about the institutions we create lest they lose their moral compass.”

— Richard Stivers

Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Illinois State University

“John Horvat has put together a compendium of good thinking about a lot of diverse subjects and integrated them into a coherent outline of a worldview. His integrated understanding of diverse human phenomena would be eagerly and widely accepted in the Europe of the Middle Ages. More recently he would likely fall into the company of such traditional conservative scholars as Russell Kirk or Richard Weaver. This is a perceptive and exciting book explaining how these traditional understandings and principles can form the bedrock of our personal and corporate philosophy today.”

— G. Daniel Harden, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Education, Washburn University

Chairman, Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission

“An ambitious book that calls for a major shift in the attitudes of those of us who live in a fast-paced world. Horvat calls for an order that combines the virtues of tested traditions with the creative potential of the free economy: a combination of a structured order based on traditional values and the spontaneous order of economic systems based on private property. He uses the term “frenetic intemperance” to describe the type of life which does not leave room for family, creative leisure, and prayer. A call for more balance in our economies and our lives.”

— Dr. Alejandro Chafuen

President of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation

“Poetically written, John Horvat II’s Return to Order elevates the argument about what is truly important. It’s rare that a book of this depth is also such a pleasure to read. Mr. Horvat’s critique of contemporary America’s “frenetic intemperance” rings true, laying bare modern man’s confusion and anomie amid plenty. An erudite cultural sculptor, Mr. Horvat chisels away materialism’s false promises and points toward God as the source of the higher revelation that makes beauty, heroism, nobility, sacrifice and true vocation discoverable and meaningful.”

— Robert Knight

columnist and author of several books, including

The Age of Consent: The Rise of Relativism and the Corruption of Popular Culture

and The Truth About Marriage

“John Horvat sounds a clarion call for a return to fiscal and moral sanity. A must read!”

— Col. Bud Day

Medal of Honor and POW

“If our nation ever needed to return to traditional values, it is now. We are committing suicide; but each of our problems has at its roots a moral solution found in the tenets of the Christian tradition that is at the foundation of our being. Return to Order does a great job of highlighting the source and solution to our impending demise.”

— Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady

Medal of Honor recipient

“Saint Benedict’s definition of peace, “Peace is the tranquility of order,” in his Rule is as valid today as it was in the Fifth Century when he wrote it. The restoration of economic and social peace in our disordered society is something for which all men of good will yearn. John Horvat has given us in his excellent book, Return to Order, a catechism of principles to guide all our efforts to restore economic and social peace to America.”

— Most Rev. Rene H. Gracida

Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi

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“The economy is finally getting the attention it deserves, and Return to Order is doing its part to help put us back on the right track. This excellent work is an in-depth study of the history and cause of our present-day economic and spiritual crisis, and it gives us a well-reasoned solution to our plight as well. I am pleased to recommend it.”

— Most Rev. James. C. Timlin

Bishop Emeritus of Scranton

“I am convinced…that answers for the most vexing challenges are found in human solutions.  In other words, character, sound decision-making, and selfless service to great causes cure many ailments. Horvat’s thesis that frenetic intemperance has driven many, if not all, of today’s economic problems bears close consideration….This book should be read and its recommendations followed by those who know a Return to Order in the 21st Century is sorely needed.”

— Lt. Col. Joseph J. Thomas (USMC-ret.), Ph.D.

USNA Class of ’61 Chair

Distinguished Professor of Leadership Education, United States Naval Academy

Return to Order is beautiful in its simplicity yet profound in its intellectual depth.”

Jamie Johnson,

State Central Committeeman of Republican Party of Iowa

“In this very well-documented and argued work, John Horvat, ingeniously demonstrates how the four cardinal virtues are the basis of a free and prosperous society. This is a work that should be on every economics and social science bookshelf. It touches on the very basis of the problems in our modern economy and society. I highly recommend this enjoyable book.”

— Prof. Harry C. Veryser

Author and Former Director of Graduate Studies in Economics, University of Detroit Mercy

“This book proposes a revitalization of long standing Christian practices as an antidote to current economic discontinuities. Using practical minded recommendations to resolve massively complex societal issues, Return to Order is a proposal that should be welcomed by those looking for a path to economic recovery and a tempering of future disruptions.”

— John B. Powers

President, Chicago Daily Observer

“A fabulous study! God granted us freedom and property to earn our sustenance. Socialism replaces individual initiative with rigid regulation and no one’s happy.”

— Malcolm Morris

Chairman, Stewart Title Guaranty Company

Return to Order is original and penetrating in its understanding of the current economic crisis, and sublime and refreshing in its grasp of the solution: organic Christian society. John Horvat has given us a much needed analysis of what went wrong with modern society and an inspired vision for where America needs to go. Inside the chaos of our days, the book is a welcome beacon that helps us get our bearings and set us on the path to true order. It defines real leadership and calls all to virtue and trust in Providence. It is my fervent hope that this book will get the attention it deserves and that it will help bring about God’s highest designs for the American people at this crossroads in history.”

—  H.I.R.H. Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza

Prince Imperial of Brazil

Return to Order touches on matters that apply not only to America but everywhere. Modern economy is in trouble and this book zeroes in on the problem of frenetic intemperance in an original and convincing manner. Best of all, author John Horvat offers organic Catholic solutions that are both so needed and so refreshing. I hope this book gets wide circulation and recommend it to all those who want real answers to vital questions.”

— H.H. Duke Paul of Oldenburg

Director, Brussels Office of Federation Pro Europa Christiana

“Horvat’s book is a thorough analysis…and points to the way out. This is very valuable in times when people are provided with false analyses and false solutions.”

— Tadeusz Radlinski

Founder of MRM (vessel design and construction), Gdansk, Poland

“We have abandoned morality in the economic life, together with beauty and the Christian spirit. In Return to Order, John Horvat argues that the return to Christian values and their observance, both by entrepreneurs and government leaders, is the best protection against the present, constantly recurring crises.”

— Paweł Toboła-Pertkiewicz

President, Polish-American Foundation for Economic Research & Education

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Return to Order is a very timely and valuable publication. The author Mr. Horvat does an excellent job in excavating the underlying root of the recurrent economic crises. It is the loss of the golden mean of virtuousness, the consequence of replacing prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance as the guiding principles of economic activity with the principle of income maximization. As a result of having abandoned the ethical anchor modern man fluctuates restless between the extremes, the business cycle being but the most prominent example of ‘frenetic intemperance.’ Anyone who considers the ongoing public debate as superficial — most reform proposals indeed merely want to cure the symptoms, yet do not address the underlying causes — should study Mr. Horvat’s Return to Order. It is to be hoped that this book reaches a large reading public and will have an impact on public policy, theoretical debates and personal decisions alike.”

— Gregor Hochreiter

Director, Institute of Applied Economics and Western Christian Philosophy

Vienna, Austria

“No one can doubt that our country cannot continue on its present course and that the causes for our demise need to be seriously examined. Mr. Horvat has tackled this challenge by analyzing the cultural, moral and structural issues inherent in our 21st century economy. All too often people react by going to extremes within the current system: one calling for more government intervention and the other for exaggerated individualism.  Both ignore the underlying moral problem.  Mr. Horvat has produced a balanced and scholarly work—Return to Order—in which he not only dissects brilliantly the wide spectrum of causes of our crisis but provides concrete recommendations to return us to both a prosperous society as well as one that respects the dignity of all the participants.”

— R. Scott Turicchi

President, j2 Global, Inc.

“This book offers a plan for how to begin to restructure America as the Christian society it once was. By understanding where America has been and how it got to this point in history, Christians everywhere will begin to understand what they must do to rise up against the culture that is leading our country to ruin.”

— Barbara Brabec

Book Editor and Author

“This is a remarkable and much needed book that focuses on the phenomenon of “frenetic intemperance” displayed in the souls of modern Americans. Lack of the cardinal virtue of temperance constitutes a disorder in the soul that is reflected in the various disorders and imbalances seen in the Republic itself. Enslavement to the disordered passion of “frenetic intemperance” that seeks to throw off all moral restraints has resulted, in effect, in “Two Americas” (one adhering to the remnants of the Judæo-Christian and classical political philosophy of the Nation’s Founders; the other in profound Crisis subject to the pathologies of extreme individualism, materialism, moral relativism, Socialism, and even to a Nihilism declaring human life without meaning). The worlds of politics, government, the economy, finance, technology, culture, law, and the academy have all been adversely affect by the rejection of a transcendent spiritual order and its Natural Law positing restraints on human behavior. The Brave New Secular World being erected in the name of ‘freedom” has been corrupting our institutions and human relationships.

The author has written a work unabashedly calling for an organic Catholic state and society or, at least, the permeation of our present troubled society with Christian principles that will address the disruptions in the body politic which threaten human dignity. An interesting feature of this volume is the author’s taking the best in contemporary scholarship to buttress his evaluation of our contemporary scene as well as noting those aspects and components of Medieval Society from which “post-moderns” can well learn and re-establish.

Our author has been clearly influenced by the writings of the Brazilian thinker Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and the Pope most quoted in the documents of Vatican II (Pope Pius XII). The wisdom of the Aristotelian-Thomistic “philosophia perennis” is evident in his pages.”

— James Likoudis

president emeritus, Catholics United for the Faith (CUF)

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Titles and affiliation of the above individuals with businesses, institutions, or organizations are for identification purposes only.

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Fr. Pavone and other Catholic leaders respond to Italian bishop who criticized pro-lifers

by John-Henry Westen

ROME, May 26, 2014 ( – Responding to a high-ranking Italian bishop who distanced himself from those who pray rosaries outside of abortion centers, the head of Priests for Life did not shrink from open criticism.

Responding to the recent remarks by Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the secretary-general of the Italian Bishops Conference, Father Frank Pavone said they underline the critical importance of vigorous pro-life efforts.

Father Frank Pavone

“When somebody says that the Church has ‘concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia,’ I take it as a compliment for the success of ministries like Priests for Life, which have called and will call upon the clergy, and indeed the entire Church, to sound the alarm about these atrocities more loudly and clearly than ever. Nor will we stop calling for that until the killing stops,” Pavone wrote in comments published by Catholic columnist Matt C. Abbott.

Bishop Galantino had said: “In the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing.”

“I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work,” the bishop added.

Father Pavone’s strongest comments, verified with him by LifeSiteNews, came in response to Bishop Galantino’s call for the church to “listen without any taboo to the arguments in favour of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality."

Pavone said, “I conclude, therefore, that he would not be opposed to open conversation about the scandal of silence in the face of the greatest holocaust the world has ever known – that of abortion.”

“In the annals of history, any failures of the institutional Church in regard to the sex abuse crisis – and those failures are not to be minimized – will nevertheless pale in comparison to the failure to stand up, preach vigorously, and mobilize courageously to end child-killing in the womb,” the priest added.

Meanwhile pro-life advocates in Italy continue to demand a correction or clarification from the high-ranking Italian bishop.

A statement from the group NO194, which is seeking a referendum to overturn Law 194, Italy’s abortion law, said that Bishop Galantino’s comments “directly concern our organizing committee” and the event the group held in November of 2012, a 9-hour prayer vigil outside 20 hospitals where abortions are committed.

“I beg to observe to Msgr. Galantino that his statements are at odds with the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of the saint John Paul II,” says the statement. The encyclical, the group adds, specifically urged Catholics “to oppose laws” that violate the principle of the sacredness of human life.

Peter Guerini, national president of the Committee of NO194, denounced Galantino’s attack on the “alleged lack of expression of the faces,” as “contemptuous” and “sarcastic” and “little in conformity with the office of bishop.” The group concludes by urging prayer for Galantino.

Marco Tosatti, a “Vaticanista” journalist with La Stampa newspaper covered the group’s response and added, “I checked in yesterday’s news to see if there was any clarification or explanation by Msgr. Galantino but I did not find any.”

After blogging about the incident and inviting the archbishop to retract, John Smeaton, the director of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said in an interview that such comments have a far-ranging effect in politics. Smeaton told Michael Voris of Church Militant TV that although the pro-life movement around the world is not going to be deterred by the comments of “ill-informed clerics,” there is a real concern because “when these sorts of statements are made, there’s a change in the moral landscape worldwide.”

Other prominent Catholics remarking on Bishop Galantino’s “gratuitous remark” include prominent US canon lawyer Ed Peters. “I worry when ranking prelates disparage the simple and prayerful piety that some lay faithful show even before the Gates of Death,” said Peters on his famous blog.

Recalling that he prayed his “first rosary outside an abortuary in 1978,” Peters notes that he has “been screamed at by clinic personnel, cursed at by passers-by, drenched in the rain, had a brick tossed over a wall at me, and once watched a driver gesture the ‘trigger finger’ at me.” Peters apologized if his “expressionless demeanor at prayer outside an abortuary has ever embarrassed anyone.”

He concluded, “It’s just that I am still fazed at the very thought that, hardly 20 paces from where I stand, a baby is being sliced to ribbons.”

MAP: Divorce Rates Around The World

By Pamela Angel: The world's highest divorce rates aren't found in the U.S. — marriage is actually a much riskier endeavor in Europe.

Check out this map, which draws from the latest divorce data from each country:

The divorce rate is still high in the U.S. at 53%. But Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are worse off with divorce rates higher than 60%.

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If Our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor had left the Apostles awestruck, we can imagine how He must appear at the moment of His Ascension

The hour of the Ascension

Upon entering Jerusalem, we recall that here rested Our Lord Jesus Christ in a close sepulcher, penetrated by neither air nor light, His Sacred Body disfigured by wounds. Wrapped in the Holy Shroud, Our Lord lies in utter darkness, reduced to isolated inertia and death. In the seeming hopelessness of the sepulcher, the triumph of the synagogue appears complete.

After two days, a ray of light penetrates the darkness, and then another, and yet another, as the angels manifested their presence. The heavy stone that guards the sepulcher cannot keep these pure spirits from entering. The angelic choir gathers and fills the empty silence with heaven’s songs.

Suddenly, the sacred body stirs, as Our Lord raises Himself from the slab on which He lies and from death itself. He had been in limbo, where He consoled the just with the Good News that the hour of their redemption was at hand. We may well imagine their joy and adoration as they welcomed their Redeemer!

As His Divine soul reanimates His mortal body, each wound shines with the sun’s brilliance. Christ’s crown of thorns is now a crown of light. Our Lord commands the stone to depart, and the sun streams in, dispelling the tomb’s darkness as the Son vanquishes the despair of death in His eternal triumph.

Someone approaches. She is running. It is Mary Magdalen, and she is still weeping. Finding the sepulcher open with its stone rolled away and not a Roman guard in sight, she does not know what to think.  

Seeing a man whom she mistakes for a gardener, she asks, “Where is Jesus?” He answers with a single word: “Mary.” The scales fall from her eyes, and she responds,

“Rabboni!” which means “Master.” However, Our Lord, whose glorious body can move faster than any rocket, is no longer there. He is in the Cenacle, where Mary Most Holy has retired to weep for her Son in the semi-darkness. Suddenly, Christ enters radiantly. She is not mistaken as Mary Magdalen was for she is His mother after all.

Let us recall Jesus’ last gaze at His Mother from the Cross’ infinite height. She is the last person He sees before He closes His eyes in death. It is a look of love that the world has never known— the love of God for His Holy Mother. Imagine then the first glance exchanged between Mother and Son after the Resurrection, as the deepest sadness becomes the greatest joy! In an instant, He returns to Mary Magdalen, for glorified, He is no longer limited to time and space.

He appears here and there, speaking first with this disciple, then with that disciple. Only at the Final Judgment will we know all those to whom Christ spoke, giving courage and counsel, as He prepared His Church for the battles to come.

The hour of Ascension is at hand. Jesus walks to the Mount of Olives accompanied by His mother and the Apostles. Theirs is not a simple farewell. They hang on each word of His teaching with rapt attention.

If Our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor had left the Apostles awestruck, we can imagine how He must appear at the moment of His Ascension. As Jesus speaks, His body gradually begins to rise. He knows that He is rising to Heaven, but it is so natural, so proper and so normal for Him to ascend that at first, His Apostles might see it as simply another example of His glorification. However, at a certain moment, He is so high that they realize, “He is leaving us now!” And thus, the Risen Lord ascends into the glory of Heaven.

The Sanctuary Lamp

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Saint Bernard on Devotion to Mary

In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary.

Let not her name depart from your lips; never suffer it to leave your heart.

And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer,
neglect not to walk in her footsteps.

With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall;
under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.

St. Bernard of Claivaux

Affirm your Faith! Click HERE to Protest Against Blasphemy

Photo: With her for guide, you shall never go astray!

Marriage and witness: What’s going on at Notre Dame?

by Michael Bradley

May 28, 2014 (Public Discourse) - In October of last year, I wrote here at Public Discourse about the University of Notre Dame’s unfortunate decision to participate in National Coming Out Day. I noted that, by encouraging celebration of identities rooted in proclivities toward acts that violate the truth of marriage, Notre Dame was failing in its pastoral duties to guide its students in love and in truth. These duties are rooted in its institutional vocation as a Catholic university, as articulated by the school’s Mission Statement.

Several events on campus this spring have confirmed and deepened my belief that Notre Dame is failing to fulfill its pastoral duty to bear witness to the truth.  Read more:

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VIDEO --  Traditional Marriage Catholics Not Welcome at Notre Dame

Grassroots protest petition and letters halt Estonian homosexual civil unions bill

by Hilary White

TALLINN, May 27, 2014 ( – A small group of family campaigners has for the moment turned back an internationally-backed effort to create “civil union” legislation in Estonia. In a surprising turnaround, within 24 hours of the launch of a petition the bill has been withdrawn for further consideration and is not expected to be reintroduced until the autumn. The signature drive was a re-play of a similar outcome a year ago when 38,000 people said no to a bill that proposed to create “gay marriage” in Estonia.

In April this year, a group of forty parliamentarians tried again, bringing forward their Civil Partnership Act, the most recent of several efforts since 2005, that proposed to confer legal recognition on homosexual relationships, establishing that children can have “two mothers” or “two fathers.” Its supporters argued both that the bill was not exclusively aimed at same-sex partners and that it was in no way a prelude to the introduction of “gay marriage.” Opponents, however, said that the bill was specifically intended to “undermine the concept of family and the meaning of the basic values of our society.”

Perekonna ja Traditsiooni Kaitseks (Foundation for the Defence of Life and Family) launched a website asking concerned Estonians to send an email to parliamentarians “categorically” rejecting the bill. Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition had “gone viral” throughout the country and collected over 44,000 signatures and by today has sent over 182,507 letters to all 101 members of parliament.

Varro Vooglaid, the author of the petition and the head of the Foundation, told LifeSiteNews, “We started the protest campaign on 19 May and on that same day the first news came that the bill might not be passed before autumn. The message was repeated during the week.” The bill’s sponsors had originally intended to see the bill passed June 23rd before parliament’s summer break.

Responding to reports that some lawmakers were sending the emails directly to their trash files, Vooglaid said it is a “glimpse of the understanding of democracy of the kind of people who govern us. This is how much they actually care about the views and voice of the people.”

The letter read, “I categorically protest against the Civil Partnership Act!” It pointed to Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that says lawmakers are obliged to “protect the institution of the family as the foundation of the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society.”

“And the family, according to the meaning of constitution, is founded upon the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, all members of the parliament who have sworn fidelity to the constitutional order are obliged to protect the institution of the family from ideologically motivated attempts of subversion and radical redefinition.”

The letter warned parliamentarians that their support for changing the definition of the family would have political repercussions in upcoming elections. “Should parliament, however, decide to proceed with the Civil Partnership Act, it has to be put on a referendum, because adopting this law would mean the redefinition of the foundation of the society – something that only the people are entitled to do.”

A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Estonian Orthodox Church supported the initiative, saying that instead of same-sex recognition parliament should enact legislation to support the “flagging institution of marriage and the traditional family." The Orthodox statement called for strong state guarantees to protect “the whole family, consisting of husband, wife and the family, with the children born.”

The Orthodox Plenary said they “think it is extremely unfortunate that our country’s laws will directly contradict the laws of God, which are based upon the revelation to mankind in the Ten Commandments.”

“Really, our church does not see reason why the Estonian government needs to take such a step, which threatens to weaken our country and may cause us to lose respect for the country by a huge number of citizens.”

Vooglaid said that his group had communicated with the members of parliament “on numerous occasions the message that should they support the bill we will do all we can to mobilize tens of thousands of people not to vote for them.” Parliamentary elections are set for March 1, 2015.

This week, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups held their annual meeting this year on a cruise ship making stops at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. This year’s theme, the group said, is “Sailing with Hope,” taken from a popular Estonian myth of a “white ship” that “brings freedom or takes people away to a better land.” During the conference a representative of Geikristlaste Kogu (the Estonian Association of Gay Christians) gave a featured presentation on “our hopes for the future.”

Asked why such a group would take such an interest in tiny Estonia, with a population of only 1.2 million and very few active Christians, Vooglaid said that Estonia is seen as an ideal “gateway” to Eastern Europe by homosexualist activists.

“Due to its almost completely destroyed Christian culture,” he said, the formerly majority Lutheran Estonia will be the means of “breaking down Eastern European cultural resistance” to the homosexual and gender ideology.

Estonia is regularly described as one of the “least religious” countries in the world. The most recent statistics from the country found that 54 per cent of the population say they have no religion and 16.7 per cent are “unspecified.” 9.9 per cent are still Lutheran; 16.2 per cent of residents, mainly ethnic Russians, are Orthodox and 2.2 per cent are listed as “other Christian.”

“The homosexual movement knows that they have almost no chance whatsoever of succeeding in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia, and therefore they are trying to break a hole by attacking the moral foundations of the society in Estonia,” Vooglaid said.

A 2009 poll found that only 32 per cent of the population were supportive of same-sex “marriage”. 40 per cent of younger people approved, but only 6 per cent of their parents were in favor. By 2012 that number had dropped to 34 per cent overall. 51 per cent of ethnic Estonians and only 35 percent of Russians supported same-sex civil unions. Vooglaid confirmed that the homosexualist movement wants to create the impression of being a “grassroots movement.” “The reality, however, is that the homosexual movement has almost zero popular support in Estonia,” he said. “Everything they are able to do is because of extensive support and funding from the European Union, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundation) and other interest groups that originate from outside our country.”

He added that the movement did not expect such strong and ongoing popular resistance. At least five attempts have been made since 2005 to introduce some form of same-sex recognition and all have failed. 

Vooglaid pointed to the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the fact that Estonia’s second largest ethnic population group is Russian, sent as settlers during the Soviet era. He said that representatives of religious organizations have warned parliamentarians that giving a legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle could “bring about a serious security risk to the country.” It would “alienate a huge portion of the society from our legal and political system” and prompt them to look towards a possible alliance with the Russian Federation, “where respect for family values is gradually being restored.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous, baptized Marie Bernarde, was the oldest of a family of six, the daughter of a miller, Francis Soubirous and wife, Louise Casterot. They lived in Lourdes, a small town in the French Pyrennes.

Her father came on hard times, and they moved into a former prison. The damp place did not help Bernadette who had severe asthma and delicate health.  Considered slow to learn, she had the simplicity of a dove, was good, patient, and nothing but honest.

On February 11, 1858 walking with her sister and two friends, her companions skipped over stones to cross the River Gave to gather sticks for fuel in the grotto of Massabielle.

Hesitant about wading in the cold water, the asthmatic Bernadette sat on a rock when a sudden gust of wind made her look up.  In the grotto she beheld a luminous lady, dressed in white with a blue sash around her waist, golden roses on her feet and a rosary over her arm.

Report of the vision caused a commotion, and people began to accompany Bernadette to the grotto where, altogether, there were eighteen apparitions in a period of two months.  On March 25  the lady revealed herself as “The Immaculate Conception”, four years after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  The Virgin’s message was one of prayer and personal conversion and she also asked for a church to be built.

At one of the apparitions Bernadette suddenly began to dig inside the grotto, from whence emerged a fountain that flows abundantly today, which water has worked countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the church and medicine.

After the apparitions, though her father’s life improved with offers of work, Bernadette’s was continuously harassed by visitors and by ecclesiastical inquiries.

In 1866 she entered the convent of Notre Dame de Nevers where, despite her delicate health, she served as infirmarian and sacristan.  Developing a painful, fatal tuberculosis of the bone, Bernardette suffered patiently until her death at age thirty five on April 16, 1879.  She died reaffirming the veracity of her visions.  Lourdes is today one of the most visited and beloved Catholic shrines in the world. Bernadette’s body lies in Nevers miraculously incorrupt.

The Marvels of Saint Bernadette

Satanists want to build a Satanic monument next to Ten Commandments plaque in Oklahoma City – Sign petition against this Satanic monument

The New York-based Satanic Temple has plans to erect an idol of Satan next to a depiction of the Ten Commandments that has been on the Oklahoma state grounds since 2012. The seven-foot tall statue of Satan is flanked by two children, and features two prominent satanic symbols: a pentacle, located above Satan’s head, and the goat-headed Baphomet, a symbol of idolatry.


This sacrilegious statue that invites people, especially children, to sit on his lap is unacceptable and mocks God and His Commandments. To accept any statue of Satan (or another deity) mocks our Christian traditions and defies the demands of Almighty God that the evil fallen angel Satan not be honored by a monument.

I ask that you vigorously defend the 10 Commandments monument and reject the Satanic statue. We must stop it before it happens - we are one nation under God, not under Satan. Please sign the petition below. Send your protest message today so Oklahoma officials will hear from you and know the reasons why you absolutely abhor Satanists erecting this horrific statue. God always, Satan never!

St. Augustine of Canterbury – The saint who worked so hard for England’s conversion

One day, the story goes, Gregory was walking through the Roman slave market when he noticed three fair, golden-haired boys. He asked their nationality and was told that they were Angles. "They are well named," said Gregory, "for they have angelic faces." He asked where they came from, and when told "De Ire," he exclaimed, "De ira (from wrath)—yes, verily, they shall be saved from God's wrath and called to the mercy of Christ. What is the name of the king of that country?" "Aella." "Then must Alleluia be sung in Aella's land."

This brief encounter in the Roman Forum between the monk Gregory – later Pope St. Gregory the Great – and the English youths planted in him such a desire to evangelize England that having secured the blessing of Pope Pelagius, he immediately set forth with several monk companions.

This ardent missionary desire, however, was not to be fulfilled by himself but by another.

Augustine was prior of a Benedictine monastery in the Eternal City when Pope St. Gregory the Great asked him and another thirty monks to take up the evangelization of England, a project close to the pontiff’s heart.

England had been Christianized before the seventh century, but the Saxon invasion had sent Anglo-Christians into hiding.
As Augustine and companions made their way to the isle, they heard so many stories of the cruelty of their future hosts, that by the time they reached France, they decided to turn back to Rome. But Pope Gregory who had heard differently, including the fact that King Ethelbert had married the Christian-French princess Bertha, respecting her religion, insisted on the mission being carried out.

On arriving in England, King Ethelbert in fact received the monks respectfully and allowed them to preach. In 597 the king accepted baptism, and although, unlike other kings of the time, he let his people free to choose, conversions began to happen.
Augustine was consecrated bishop of the English and ruled wisely, stepping carefully around the prevalent pagan practices, Christianizing old temples, and keeping certain holidays as feasts of Christian saints.

The holy prelate had more success with the pagans then with the old Christians who had taken refuge in Cornwall and Wales. They had a strayed a little from the teachings of Rome, and though Augustine met with them many times trying to bring them back, they could not forgive their Saxon conquerors and chose bitterness and isolation instead.

St. Augustine was primate of England for only eight years, and died in May of 605.

Monday, May 26, 2014

St. Philip Neri – The cheerful saint, whose body is incorrupt, and who converted a young nobleman by showing him a vision of hell



Statue of Philip Neri in Congregados Church, Braga, Portugal. Photo by Joseolgon.

Born at Florence, Italy, 22 July, 1515; died 27 May, 1595. Philip’s family originally came from Castelfranco but had lived for many generations in Florence, where not a few of its members had practised the learned professions, and therefore took rank with the Tuscan nobility. Among these was Philip’s own father, Francesco Neri, who eked out an insufficient private fortune with what he earned as a notary.

A circumstance which had no small influence on the life of the saint was Francesco’s friendship with the Dominicans; for it was from the friars of S. Marco, amid the memories of Savonarola, that Philip received many of his early religious impressions. Besides a younger brother, who died in early childhood, Philip had two younger sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta.

It was with them that “the good Pippo”, as he soon began to be called, committed his only known fault. He gave a slight push to Caterina, because she kept interrupting him and Elisabetta, while they were reciting psalms together, a practice of which, as a boy, he was remakably fond. One incident of his childhood is dear to his early biographers as the first visible intervention of Providence on his behalf, and perhaps dearer still to his modern disciples, because it reveals the human characteristics of a boy amid the supernatural graces of a saint. When about eight years old he was left alone in a courtyard to amuse himself; seeing a donkey laden with fruit, he jumped on its back; the beast bolted, and both tumbled into a deep cellar. His parents hastened to the spot and extricated the child, not dead, as they feared, but entirely uninjured.

From the first it was evident that Philip’s career would run on no conventional lines; when shown his family pedigree he tore it up, and the burning of his father’s house left him unconcerned. Having studied the humanities under the best scholars of a scholarly generation, at the age of sixteen he was sent to help his father’s cousin in business at S. Germano, near Monte Cassino. He applied himself with diligence, and his kinsman soon determined to make him his heir.

But he would often withdraw for prayer to a little mountain chapel belonging to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, built above the harbour of Gaeta in a cleft of rock which tradition says was among those rent at the hour of Our Lord’s death. It was here that his vocation became definite: he was called to be the Apostle of Rome. In 1533 he arrived in Rome without any money. He had not informed his father of the step he was taking, and he had deliberately cut himself off from his kinsman’s patronage.

He was, however, at once befriended by Galeotto Caccia, a Florentine resident, who gave him a room in his house and an allowance of flour, in return for which he undertook the education of his two sons. For seventeen years Philip lived as a layman in Rome, probably without thinking of becoming a priest. It was perhaps while tutor to the boys, that he wrote most of the poetry which he composed both in Latin and in Italian. Before his death he burned all his writings, and only a few of his sonnets have come down to us. He spent some three years, beginning about 1535, in the study of philosophy at the Sapienza, and of theology in the school of the Augustinians. When he considered that he had learnt enough, he sold his books, and gave the price to the poor. Though he never again made study his regular occupation, whenever he was called upon to cast aside his habitual reticence, he would surprise the most learned with the depth and clearness of his theological knowledge.

St. Philip

He now devoted himself entirely to the sanctification of his own soul and the good of his neighbour.

His active apostolate began with solitary and unobtrusive visits to the hospitals. Next he induced others to accompany him. Then he began to frequent the shops, warehouses, banks, and public places of Rome, melting the hearts of those whom he chanced to meet, and exhorting them to serve God. In 1544, or later, he became the friend of St. Ignatius. Many of his disciples tried and found their vocations in the infant Society of Jesus; but the majority remained in the world, and formed the nucleus of what afterwards became the Brotherhood of the Little Oratory.

Though he “appeared not fasting to men”, his private life was that of a hermit. His single daily meal was of bread and water, to which a few herbs were sometimes added, the furniture of his room consisted of a bed, to which he usually preferred the floor, a table, a few chairs, and a rope to hang his clothes on; and he disciplined himself frequently with small chains. Tried by fierce temptations, diabolical as well as human, he passed through them all unscathed, and the purity of his soul manifested itself in certain striking physical traits. He prayed at first mostly in the church of S. Eustachio, hard by Caccia’s house. Next he took to visiting the Seven Churches. But it was in the catacomb of S. Sebastiano — confounded by early biographers with that of S. Callisto — that he kept the longest vigils and received the most abundant consolations. In this catacomb, a few days before Pentecost in 1544, the well-known miracle of his heart took place.

Bacci describes it thus: “While he was with the greatest earnestness asking of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and thereupon he was suddenly surprised with such a fire of love, that, unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, bared his breast to temper in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a violent tremour; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart, a swelling about as big as a man’s fist, but neither then nor afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain or wound.” The cause of this swelling was discovered by the doctors who examined his body after death. The saint’s heart had been dilated under the sudden impulse of love, and in order that it might have sufficient room to move, two ribs had been broken, and curved in the form of an arch. From the time of the miracle till his death, his heart would palpitate violently whenever he performed any spiritual action.

Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri emblem, from a 19th cent. print.

Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri emblem, from a 19th cent. print.

During his last years as a layman, Philip’s apostolate spread rapidly. In 1548, together with his confessor, Persiano Rosa, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for looking after pilgrims and convalescents. Its members met for Communion, prayer, and other spiritual exercises in the church of S. Salvatore, and the saint himself introduced exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month. At these devotions Philip preached, though still a layman, and we learn that on one occasion alone he converted no less than thirty dissolute youths. In 1550 a doubt occurred to him as to whether he should not discontinue his active work and retire into absolute solitude. His perplexity was set at rest by a vision of St. John the Baptist, and by another vision of two souls in glory, one of whom was eating a roll of bread, signifying God’s will that he should live in Rome for the good of souls as though he were in a desert, abstaining as far as possible from the use of meat.


In 1551, however, he received a true vocation from God. At the bidding of his confessor — nothing short of this would overcome his humility — he entered the priesthood, and went to live at S. Girolamo, where a staff of chaplains was supported by the Confraternity of Charity. Each priest had two rooms assigned to him, in which he lived, slept, and ate, under no rule save that of living in charity with his brethren. Among Philip’s new companions, besides Persiano Rosa, was Buonsignore Cacciaguerra (see “A Precursor of St. Philip” by Lady Amabel Kerr, London), a remarkable penitent, who was at that time carrying on a vigorous propaganda in favour of frequent Communion. Philip, who as a layman had been quietly encouraging the frequent reception of the sacraments, expended the whole of his priestly energy in promoting the same cause; but unlike his precursor, he recommended the young especially to confess more often than they communicated. The church of S. Girolamo was much frequented even before the coming of Philip, and his confessional there soon became the centre of a mighty apostolate.

He stayed in church, hearing confessions or ready to hear them, from daybreak till nearly midday, and not content with this, he usually confessed some forty persons in his room before dawn. Thus he laboured untiringly throughout his long priesthood. As a physician of souls he received marvelous gifts from God. He would sometimes tell a penitent his most secret sins without his confessing them; and once he converted a young nobleman by showing him a vision of hell. Shortly before noon he would leave his confessional to say Mass. His devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, like the miracle of his heart, is one of those manifestations of sanctity which are peculiarly his own. So great was the fervour of his charity, that, instead of recollecting himself before Mass, he had to use deliberate means of distraction in order to attend to the external rite. During the last five years of his life he had permission to celebrate privately in a little chapel close to his room. At the “Agnus Dei” the server went out, locked the doors, and hung up a notice: “Silence, the Father is saying Mass”. When he returned in two hours or more, the saint was so absorbed in God that he seemed to be at the point of death.

Rome – Chiesa Nuova (S. Maria in Vallicella)

Philip devoted his afternoons to men and boys, inviting them to informal meetings in his room, taking them to visit churches, interesting himself in their amusements, hallowing with his sweet influence every department of their lives. At one time he had a longing desire to follow the example of St. Francis Xavier, and go to India. With this end in view, he hastened the ordination of some of his companions. But in 1557 he sought the counsel of a Cistercian at Tre Fontane; and as on a former occasion he had been told to make Rome his desert, so now the monk communicated to him a revelation he had had from St. John the Evangelist, that Rome was to be his India. Philip at once abandoned the idea of going abroad, and in the following year the informal meetings in his room developed into regular spiritual exercises in an oratory, which he built over the church. At these exercises laymen preached and the excellence of the discourses, the high quality of the music, and the charm of Philip’s personality attracted not only the humble and lowly, but men of the highest rank and distinction in Church and State. Of these, in 1590, Cardinal Nicolo Sfondrato, became Pope Gregory XIV, and the extreme reluctance of the saint alone prevented the pontiff from forcing him to accept the cardinalate.

St. Philip

In 1559, Philip began to organize regular visits to the Seven Churches, in company with crowds of men, priests and religious, and laymen of every rank and condition. These visits were the occasion of a short but sharp persecution on the part of a certain malicious faction, who denounced him as “a setter-up of new sects”. The cardinal vicar himself summoned him, and without listening to his defence, rebuked him in the harshest terms. For a fortnight the saint was suspended from hearing confessions; but at the end of that time he made his defence, and cleared himself before the ecclesiastical authorities.

In 1562, the Florentines in Rome begged him to accept the office of rector of their church, S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, but he was reluctant to leave S. Girolamo. At length the matter was brought before Pius IV, and a compromise was arrived at (1564). While remaining himself at S. Girolamo, Philip became rector of S. Giovanni, and sent five priests, one of whom was Baronius, to represent him there. They lived in community under Philip as their superior, taking their meals together, and regularly attending the exercises at S. Girolamo. In 1574, however, the exercises began to be held in an oratory at S. Giovanni. Meanwhile the community was increasing in size, and in 1575 it was formally recognised by Gregory XIII as the Congregation of the Oratory, and given the church of S. Maria in Vallicella.

The fathers came to live there in 1577, in which year they opened the Chiesa Nuova, built on the site of the old S. Maria, and transferred the exercises to a new oratory. Philip himself remained at S. Girolamo till 1583, and it was only in obedience to Gregory XIII that he then left his old home and came to live at the Vallicella.

The last years of his life were marked by alternate sickness and recovery. In 1593, he showed the true greatness of one who knows the limits of his own endurance, and resigned the office of superior which had been conferred on him for life. In 1594, when he was in an agony of pain, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and cured him. At the end of March, 1595, he had a severe attack of fever, which lasted throughout April; but in answer to his special prayer God gave him strength to say Mass on 1 May in honour of SS. Philip and James. On the following 12 May he was seized with a violent haemorrhage, and Cardinal Baronius, who had succeeded him as superior, gave him Extreme Unction. After that he seemed to revive a little and his friend Cardinal Frederick Borromeo brought him the Viaticum, which he received with loud protestations of his own unworthiness. On the next day he was perfectly well, and till the actual day of his death went about his usual duties, even reciting the Divine Office, from which he was dispensed.

But on 15 May he predicted that he had only ten more days to live. On 25 May, the feast of Corpus Christi, he went to say Mass in his little chapel, two hours earlier than usual. “At the beginning of his Mass”, writes Bacci, “he remained for some time looking fixedly at the hill of S. Onofrio, which was visible from the chapel, just as if he saw some great vision. On coming to the Gloria in Excelsis he began to sing, which was an unusual thing for him, and sang the whole of it with the greatest joy and devotion, and all the rest of the Mass he said with extraordinary exultation, and as if singing.”

He was in perfect health for the rest of that day, and made his usual night prayer; but when in bed, he predicted the hour of the night at which he would die. About an hour after midnight Father Antonio Gallonio, who slept under him, heard him walking up and down, and went to his room. He found him lying on the bed, suffering from another haemorrhage. “Antonio, I am going”, he said; Gallonio thereupon fetched the medical men and the fathers of the congregation. Cardinal Baronius made the commendation of his soul, and asked him to give the fathers his final blessing. The saint raised his hand slightly, and looked up to heaven. Then inclining his head towards the fathers, he breathed his last. Philip was beatified by Paul V in 1615, and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622.

The incorrupt body of St. Philip in n Santa Maria in Valicella. No bones were ever taken and the only first class relic of him is a flake of skin. His face suffered slightly, was covered with a silver mask, which St. Philip prophesied before his death.

The incorrupt body of St. Philip in n Santa Maria in Valicella. No bones were ever taken and the only first class relic of him is a flake of skin. His face suffered slightly, was covered with a silver mask, which St. Philip prophesied before his death.

It is perhaps by the method of contrast that the distinctive characteristics of St. Philip and his work are brought home to us most forcibly.

We hail him as the patient reformer, who leaves outward things alone and works from within, depending rather on the hidden might of sacrament and prayer than on drastic policies of external improvement; the director of souls who attaches more value to mortification of the reason than to bodily austerities, protests that men may become saints in the world no less than in the cloister, dwells on the importance of serving God in a cheerful spirit, and gives a quaintly humorous turn to the maxims of ascetical theology; the silent watcher of the times, who takes no active part in ecclesiastical controversies and is yet a motive force in their development, now encouraging the use of ecclesiastical history as a bulwark against Protestantism, now insisting on the absolution of a monarch, whom other counsellors would fain exclude from the sacraments, now praying that God may avert a threatened condemnation and receiving a miraculous assurance that his prayer is heard (see Letter of Ercolani referred to by Capecelatro); the founder of a Congregation, which relies more on personal influence than on disciplinary organization, and prefers the spontaneous practice of counsels of perfection to their enforcement by means of vows; above all, the saint of God, who is so irresistibly attractive, so eminently lovable in himself, as to win the title of the “Amabile santo”.

GALLONIO, companion of the saint was the first to produce a Life of St. Philip, published in Latin (1600) and in Italian (1601), written with great precision, and following a strictly chronological order. Several medical treatises were written on the saint’s palpitation and fractured ribs, e. g. ANGELO DA BAGNAREA’s Medica disputatio de palpitatione cordis, fractura costarum, aliisque affectionibus B. Philippi Nerii. . .qua ostenditur praedictas affectiones fuisse supra naturam, dedicated to Card. Frederick Borromeo (Rome, 1613). BACCI wrote an Italian Life and dedicated it to Gregory XV (1622). His work is the outcome of a minute examination of the processes of canonization, and contains important matter not found in GALLONIO. BROCCHI’s Life of St. Philip, contained in his Vite de’ santi e beati Fiorentini (Florence, 1742), includes the saint’s pedigree, and gives the Florentine tradition of his early years; for certain chronological discrepancies between GALLONIO, BACCI, and BROCCHI, see notes on the chronology in ANTROBUS’ ed. of BACCI. Other Lives are by RICCI (Rome, 1670), whose work was an enlargement of BACCI, and includes his own Lives of the Companions of St. Philip; MARCIANO (1693); SONZONIO (1727); BERNABEI (d. 1662), whose work is published for the first time by the BOLLANDISTS (Acta SS., May, VII); RAMIREZ, who adapts the language of Scripture to St. Philip in a Latin work called the Via lactea, dedicated to Innocent XI (Valencia, 1682); and BAYLE (1859). GEOTHE at the end of his Italien. Reise (Italian Journey) gives a sketch of the saint, entitled Filippo Neri, der humoristische Heilige. The most important modern Life is that of CAPECELATRO (1879), treating fully of the saint’s relations with the persons and events of his time. There is an English Life by HOPE (London, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago). An abridged English translation of BACCI appeared in penal times (Paris, 1656), a fact which shows our Catholic forefathers’ continued remembrance of the saint, who used to greet the English College students with the words, “Salvete, flores martyrum.” FABER’s Modern Saints (1847) includes translations of an enlarged ed. of BACCI, and of RICCI’s Lives of the Companions. Of the former there is a new and revised edition by ANTROBUS (London, 1902). CAPECELATRO’s work has been translated by POPE (London, 1882). English renderings of two of St. Philip’s sonnets by RYDER are published at the end of the recent editions of BACCI and CAPECELATRO, together with translations of St. Philip’s letters. These were originally published in BISCONI’s Raccolta di lettere di santi e beati Fiorentini (Florence, 1737); but since that time twelve other letters have come to light.

(Catholic Encyclopedia)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pope St. Gregory VII -- “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”.
Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.
Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.
As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon.  A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome.  It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.
In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!”
Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.
Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication. He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”