Special Lenten message from Mr. Little|
Week 5 - Sunday, April 5, 2009
Newsflash April 4, 2009:
A new Gallup Poll analysis, based on aggregated data from Gallup's 2006-2008 Values and Beliefs surveys, indicates that despite the Roman Catholic Church's strong opposition to abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, there is almost no difference between rank-and-file American Catholics and American non-Catholics in terms of finding the two issues morally acceptable.
Abortion was considered morally acceptable by 40% of Catholics, versus 41% of non-Catholics; "medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos" was approved by 63% of Catholics, one percentage point higher than non-Catholics.
The data showed modern Catholics in the United States are even more liberal than non-Catholics on issues such as homosexuality, where Catholics led non-Catholics 54-45% in approving homosexual relations. There is no difference between Catholics and non-Catholics when the issue is contraception, with more than 95% believing it morally acceptable.
A very old priest in a large US diocese was celebrated at his 75th anniversary of ordination with more than 400 priests and several bishops present. After all the speeches of praise and admiration, he and was asked to offer advice. He rose to the microphone with help and meekly said, "I am a great sinner and have found that the only thing that works is - holiness." And he sat down.
Whenever the priest is a saint, the people are holy. Whenever the priest is holy the people are good. Whenever the priest is merely good the people are poor. Whenever the priest is poor, the people are lost.
- St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars (1786-1859)
Sleeping Shepherds and Scattered Flocks
Often, indeed, incautious rulers, being afraid of losing human favor, fear to speak freely of what is right, and, in the words of the truth, do not exercise the zeal of shepherds caring for the flock, but serve the role of mercenaries; for when the wolf appears, they flee and hide themselves in silence. Wherefore, the Lord reproves them through the prophet (Isa.56:10), saying: They are all dumb dogs, not able to bark.
- Pope St. Gregory the Great, (540-604) 'Pastoral Care',
tr. Henry Davis, S.J., New York: Newman Press
For many years I have been devoted to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In St. Peter's Square, I was blessed to be present for the Beatification of Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993. When Beatifications or Canonizations take place outdoors in the Square, huge beautiful tapestries are hung on the facade of the Basilica showing an image of the candidates.
On that day three other holy souls were beatified, so there were four giant tapestries. The message of Mercy and its approval by the Holy Spirit was doubly confirmed by a mystical event immediately following the words Pope John Paul II promulgating the beatifications.
From the beginning of the ritual, I noticed a flock of birds, pigeons I thought, perhaps 10 or 12, flying around the Square during the ceremony, which lasted more than two hours. I remember being a bit annoyed thinking, "people should not feed these pests in the square" as I had seen so often in other visits. Resting, they would perch here and there on the tops of the magnificent Bernini colonnades surrounding the square.
As the beatifications were finally proclaimed and the huge crowd of people in the square began loudly shouting their joy applauding and singing, the birds took flight once more. But this time they flew around and around the square as if calling attention to themselves...and all of them landed on the long pole, which held the beautiful tapestry of Faustina and the image of the Divine Mercy. They landed only on her tapestry pole. Backgrounded by the dark stone of the Basilica, one could clearly see that they were not pigeons at all; they were perfectly pure white doves.
This was no offense of course to the other beati, Mother Angela Maria (Sophia Camilla Truszkowska), Father Louis of Casoria (Arcangelo Palmentieri) and Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz (Paula Montal). They, I'm sure knew that the message of Mercy was most important for that day and our time.
During the last six months, as I prepare for my appeal to the highest court in the Province of New Brunswick in Canada, I have increased my prayer time before the Blessed Sacrament. I have time to seek much deeper into the love of God and what He has called me to do.
The Chaplet is full of grace of course. Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina's Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the "first saint of the new millennium." Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope call her "the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time."
When I pray the Chaplet, I reflect of course on the Passion of Christ. The saints all contend that this is the certain way to holiness; it is His Passion that reveals all to our souls, and moves us to much greater love of God which is His very essence.
The problem is I find it hard to get past the first scene of the passion. The Garden.
Jesus is the Man-God. In the Garden His divine nature saw every sin of every human being, past, present and future and knew He had perhaps an hour before the kiss of Judas.
Because for God there is only the eternal 'NOW', His Agony is happening now. This is why the Mass is so important. The Mass reveals and reenacts the Passion and death of Christ now in an unbloody manner. Everyday, every hour, every moment on earth, for our sake in time. As the Mass makes us all present at Calvary, we witness in a mystical way through faith, the Omega Point of human history, the redemption of mankind. "It is easier for the world to exist without the Sun than without the Mass," said St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
His human nature was filled with fear and trepidation. Because He was Divine, and His human nature was perfect, His ability to sense and feel emotion was far more perfected than ours. Let us read of the Agony in Scripture and meditate on reflections I have excerpted. 1
And going out, He went, according to his custom, to the Mount of Olives. And His disciples also followed Him.
And they came to a garden called Gethsemane. And He saith to His disciples: "Sit you here, while I pray." And He taketh Peter and James and John with him: and He began to fear and to be heavy. And He saith to them: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
And He was withdrawn away from them a stone's cast. And kneeling down, He prayed. Saying: "Father, if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from Me: but yet not My will, but Thine be done." And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him.
And He cometh to His disciples and findeth them asleep. And He saith to Peter: "What? Could you not watch one hour with Me? Watch ye: and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again the second time, He went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done."
And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. And when He rose up from prayer and was come to the disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow.
And going away again, being in an agony, He prayed the longer, saying the same words. (Douay-Rheims, Composite of Matt. 26:38-44, Mark. 14:32-39, Luke 22:39-46)
What must that perfect knowledge, multiplied a thousand
times, have done to Our Lord's senses? We need not speculate - we know. He
says, "My soul is sorrowful, even unto death," and we read that He
sweat great drops of blood. Did you know that the body's ability to sweat blood
is an established medical fact? I quote here from a doctor:
Let us remember that the only evangelist to record the fact was a physician. And our venerated colleague, Luke, medicos carissimus [fn: "the beloved physician," Colossians 4:14], does so with the precision and conciseness of a good clinician. Hematidrosa is a very rare phenomenon, but has been well described. It is produced, as Dr. Le Bec has written, in "very special conditions: great physical debility accompanied by violent mental disturbance, following on profound emotion or great fear." [Dr. Le Bec, Le Surplice de la Croix] ... Dread and horror are here at their maximum, and so is mental disturbance. This is what St. Luke meant by agonia, which in Greek signifies a combination of struggle and anxiety.
- Pierre Barbet, M.D., A Doctor at Calvary, p. 160
Our Lord felt the most intense "dread and horror," "mental disturbance," and "struggle and anxiety?" We often miss the stark reality of the situation. Our Lord saw the inevitable: His Father was saying, "it is My will that you subject Yourself to whatever they wish to do to You," and on the other side, His enemies were saying, "we wish to torture and kill You." Would that not inspire the greatest "dread and horror?" Dr. Barbet goes on to describe the biological process of sweating blood:
How can one explain this? There is an intense vasodilatation of the subcutaneous capillaries, which burst on contact with the millions of sudoripary glands. The blood mingles with the sweat, and it is this mixture which forms into beads and flows over the whole body, in a sufficient quantity to fall to the ground. Note that this microscopic hemorrhage is produced all over the skin, which thus already suffers a general injury, and becomes sore and tender while awaiting the blows to come.
- Barbet, p. 160
Already He is suffering bodily pain, and He has not even met the cruel soldiers yet. Think also of this: if His skin was already sore and tender all over from the blood-sweat, how much more sensitive (and thus, susceptible to greater pain) must His skin have been when the Roman soldiers began to tear it from His body during the awful scourging?
He knew he would be arrested by the temple guard, harassed, beaten, spit upon, kicked, knocked to the ground, mocked, scourged brutally, stripped naked, nailed to the Cross and crucified. "My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done."
The Chaplet Meditations
His Agony began while the cream of His Apostolic College of Bishops, Peter, James and John were sleeping. They all fell asleep, not once but three times.
A few months ago while praying the Chaplet before the Tabernacle at my parish church, I found myself thinking on the pain He was
suffering while His best were sleeping. What followed was certainly from the Holy Spirit. I found myself praying this on the small beads:
"Father, for the sake of His sorrowful passion in the Garden, while they slept; have mercy on us and the whole world."
For a week or so I prayed it like this. Meditating on the
deep sorrow Jesus felt after asking the three Apostles to watch with Him for an
hour. It moved me deeply. In a week or so came another whisper.
"Father, for the sake of His sorrowful passion in the Garden, while we slept; have mercy on us and the whole world." Finally the entire light came over me, the next week.
"Father, for the sake of His sorrowful passion in the
Garden, while we sleep; have mercy on us and the whole world."
I knew then that the Spirit of Jesus had allowed me to
share an inexpressible pain of His Agony in the Garden. How He felt when His
dearest and closest friends for whom He washed their feet perhaps an hour
earlier, had slept when He asked their prayers when He most needed them.
Then I found myself thinking that in God's time, we, the
whole human race in the past, had slept as well. From Adam to Caiaphas we slept, all of us.
And in the here and now of our time cannot it be said of
the vast majority of us that we sleep while the worst of all possible mortal sins are committed while as we are alive in the world?
Murdering innocent children by the tens of millions every year. Contraception destroying the holy dignity of human sexuality before and after marriage, with Catholics no different. Contraception's common acceptance always leads to the acceptance of abortion. Souls demanding an evil and perverse parody of true marriage. Divorce destroying families en masse even in the most Christian countries. Chastity and purity mocked everywhere.
Today and for decades, bishops and priests of the Catholic Church are in great need of our prayers, fasts and sacrifices.
Many have been asleep and many still are.
Their sleep has caused hundreds of millions of lay Catholics to scatter from their flocks.
Let us understand. Satan does not waste his time attacking those who are already in his camp. He focuses on persons consecrated to Him or His Mother, whether in the lay or religious state. He tries to silence them in matters of salvation, even using his ploys to putting them to sleep. His preternatural intelligent evil, so cunning and malevolent is directed almost solely at "souls of influence" in the only institution on the planet that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, the Roman Catholic Church. The devil and his minions have won a great battle in the last 40 years.
He has succeeded in silencing all but a tiny minority of bishops and priests. He has silenced teachings on the sexual dignity of mankind. The intrinsic evil of contraception and why it is such is rarely if ever preached. The mentality that prevails is one that says that pleasure is more important than all considerations, that I can have sex when I want, so long that I practice "safe sex." And the consequences are the apostasy we endure which has resulted in the death of Christendom.
A personal friend offers this thought on contraception:
The first sin of man was eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Original sin enters in when man decides to make up his own definition of what is good and what is evil. What might the final sin look like, the un-original sin? This is pure speculation on my part, but there seems to be some hint in Scripture...
The very first command given by God to man is to "Be fruitful and multiply..." (Gen. 1:28) With rare exceptions, this command has been obeyed throughout human history, even by pagans and heathens. Indeed, fruitfulness has been considered a blessing, and sterility a shame in virtually every culture - until recent times.
Jesus, carrying his cross, spoke his final prophecy, "For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!'" (Luke 23:29) Those words must have seemed incredible to his hearers. Yet here we are.
The spurning of the first command, and the fulfillment of the final prophecy. Sounds rather apocalyptic.
- Gerald DePyper, "Unoriginal sin" post on Dogpatch, Ergo Sum blog.
The formal teaching of the Church from the very first century is repeated today in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
.... "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil." CCC Par. 2370
Intrinsic evil is an act that is always gravely wrong, each and every time and in all circumstances.
Contraception must be condemned regularly from every Catholic pulpit in the world AND it must be plainly explained why it is so evil.
"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
If we are not pure we cannot see how everything works in God. We cannot see the Way, we are blind to the things of God, and we see only the world's way. And we all know who is the prince of this world and where his way leads, even here let alone in the hereafter.
Bishops and priests must wake up to this!
Otherwise darkness will befall us with pandemic tribulation heretofore unknown in human history.
Bishops have the power to preach and have their priests preach the full truth every Sunday. They have the power to suspend and even remove from the clerical state any priest violating holy obedience.
In Canon Law the Church is specific:
Can. 375 §1 By divine institution, Bishops succeed the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who is given to them. They are constituted Pastors in the Church, to be the teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers of governance.
Can. 384 He is to have a special concern for the priests, to whom he is to listen as his helpers and counsellors. He is to defend their rights and ensure that they fulfill the obligations proper to their state. He is to see that they have the means and the institutions needed for the development of their spiritual and intellectual life.
Can. 386 §1 The diocesan Bishop is bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to behaviour. He is himself to preach frequently. He is also to ensure that the provisions of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially on the homily and catechetical instruction, are faithfully observed, so that the whole of Christian teaching is transmitted to all. §2 By whatever means seem most appropriate, he is firmly to defend the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed.
Can. 387 Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ's faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ's faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may know and live the paschal mystery.
I must restate here what I wrote above, for this affects every family in the world, especially those who are most likely to be culpable and have no excuse or reason not to know: Roman Catholic Bishops, priests and their flocks.
The formal teaching of the Church from the very first century is repeated today in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
.... "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil. CCC Par. 2370
Intrinsic evil is an act that is always gravely wrong, each and every time and in all circumstances. Contraception is always intrinsically evil.
Again I repeat: Most chemical contraceptives on sale now act primarily against
implantation, i.e., as abortifacients, without women knowing it.
If a woman, unknowing the evil of contraceptive abortifacient activity, has for example been given false counsel in confession, and receives Holy Communion, she could at the very moment of receiving Communion be having an abortion and not even know it. What kind of GLEE in HELL would accompany such a common occurrence!
Imagine the horror of this happening frequently! Please dear reader meditate on this, meditate on this demonic reality.
A valued consultant and friend writes:
Any 'pro-life' effort that temporizes (equivocates or wavers) on (the grave evil of) contraception will be ultimately futile. Legalized abortions in the United States are usually estimated at about 1.5 million a year. This figure, however, does not include early abortions caused by the intrauterine device and some so-called contraceptive pills. Such early abortions have been estimated at between 6.4 and 8.8 million each year in this country."No Exception: A Pro-Life Imperative", p. 46.
- Professor of Law Charles Rice of Notre Dame University,
"Who will be able to calculate the number of victims from this massacre?" From a talk given April 4, 1991 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Who is at fault here? Those who have the fullness of truth are most responsible for teaching, preaching and practicing those truths. We, Catholics, are the guilty ones. And we must believe that truth and truly repent.
In a November 14, 2008 address, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that "one who wants to live and act according to the Gospel of Christ has to pay a price, even in the highly liberal societies of the West" where "the idea of creating a new man completely uprooted from Judeo-Christian tradition and [of creating] a new world order is gaining ground." But we are not a minority in those nations, he pointed out. The core problem is caused by "we ourselves putting ourselves at the margin, making ourselves irrelevant - due to a lack of courage, so that people leave us in peace, because of mediocrity."
So that we can continue to sleep.
Addressing the moral paralysis of believers, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado, in a talk he gave in Toronto on the 23rd of February, 2009, said that "modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth - which means candor." (Emphasis Mine)
Michael D. O'Brien on March 17, 2009 wrote as is widely reported:
We are now living in the midst of the greatest apostasy from the Christian faith in the history of the Church. This apostasy has been made possible not only by the external pressures brought to bear on believers by the spirit of the world, by the sins and errors of unbelievers. It has occurred largely because of the internal betrayal of the Faith by false teachers who have arisen among us, those who gradually seized our institutions in the particular churches (university faculties and other levels of education, some seminaries, diocesan organs of formation in faith, catechetical programs, and so forth) and turned them to their own purposes, which were far from the mind of Christ and far from the heart of the Church.
This apostasy began with the rebellion of Bishops and priests who rejected publicly Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968. As a result priests did so by counsel in the Sacrament of Penance. It is no secret that the entirety of that prophetic document was the pure evil of CONTRACEPTION.
We need to reform the process of selection for appointment of bishops. I have personally intervened in this matter many times with Rome. I continue to do so. Change in Rome is slow. That is no concern of mine. I must do what I can do, now. And that is conquer myself and become a saint. So must you,
George Weigel wrote as early as 2002:
What is needed now are the bishops capable of leading the reform of local presbyterates, diocesan vocations offices, local and regional seminaries. Some of those bishops have already been ordained and are doing heroic work. The question now is, how do we get more of the bishops we need to carry out the reform of the ordained ministry that lay leaders and the Church's most effective priests are calling for?
Changes are needed in the criteria for appointing bishops and in the process for vetting candidates for the episcopate.
The preference for older candidates for bishops, while understandable, should be re-examined in light of today's urgent needs. Those most capable of leading the reform of the ministry will often be men in their forties, even late thirties, who are part of the John Paul II generation of Catholic clergy in the United States. Their age should not be held against them as potential bishops, if they have demonstrated effective leadership as pastors of parishes or seminary professors. There is also strong historical precedent for appointing younger men as bishops in times of crisis and needed reform. St. Ignatius of Antioch was a bishop at 32. St. Cyril of Alexandria was a bishop at 36. St Ambrose was 34 when he was ordained bishop of Milan, and St. Augustine was 41 when he became bishop of Hippo. St. Francis de Sales and St. Charles Borrower, great reformers of the counter-Reformation, were bishops in their mid-thirties.
The Church in the United States has generally been allergic to scholar-bishops. And while the record of some academics-turned-bishops in Europe in the past forty years has been discouraging, there is the powerful counter-example of John Paul II, a true scholar-bishop, to reckon with. In the United States today there are theologians, philosophers, and historians, proven effective as teachers and spiritual directors, who would make excellent bishops. Their doctorates and their scholarly careers should not be considered impediments to episcopal ordination.
The consultation process must also be widened. While bishops and priests will and should always have an important role in proposing and commenting on candidates, mature, knowledgeable, and prudent lay people ought to be consulted far more widely that they are today. Lay people may see things clergy can miss.
Finally, the bishops capable of leading the reform the Church needs will be evangelists and pastors, capable of communicating their passion for Christ to their priests and people. There is, arguably, too much raillery about the Catholic bureaucracy today; many Church bureaucrats are entirely admirable people. Yet eighty years after Max Weber dissected the character of bureaucracies, it should be clear that the typical bureaucratic cast of mind - which emphasizes efficient management and damage-control, and almost always prefers amelioration to necessary confrontation - can be in serious tension with the bishop's duty to teach, govern, and sanctify.
Apostles, not managers, are what will move the Church from crisis to reform.
We will never reform ourselves unless we live the first three things Jesus Christ ever said in public life, recorded in the first chapter of Mark. Being God, the priority and order were perfect.
Jesus said, "Repent, believe and follow me." Mark 1:15-17
If you and I truly do just that, we need not worry.
Never forget what the Master said in John 16:33, "In the world you will have trouble; but do not be afraid for I have overcome the world."