Archive for June, 2011

June 22, 2011

Catholic Venom

I write this as a plea to the brethren to be of one heart and one mind.  I also write this partially as a response to the Corapi issue – not to comment on it specifically but to comment on the comments.  Finally, I write it as an exhortation for the few faithful left on Earth to unite, in dire necessity, to prepare for future (and response to past) unprecedented attacks on the Church.

I cannot help but constantly be reminded of Romans 3 when I see the words of so many faithful Catholics today “Their throats are open graves… the venom of asps is on their lips; their mouths are full of bitter cursing.  Their feet are quick to shed blood… and the way of peace they know not. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  This is the dishearteningly common demeanor that leads to division.  Do you recognize how seriously Jesus takes this?  “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and t hen come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5:23-24) While I am no theologian I would venture to say that Jesus here intends for us today to interpret this as his demanding that we not receive Holy Communion if we have unjustly divided ourselves from a Brother in Christ.

Unless there is a clear and explicit heresy or evil, why do you so harshly, quickly, and confidently denounce?  Has your own understanding of doctrine (Edit 12/21/12: … or virtue, or proper comportment, or maturity, etc.) undergone no development over the years, even since you made that fundamental act of submission to God and His Church?  If it has not, you are not alive.  If it has, why do you condemn your brother for being perhaps at a point where you have been, or perhaps at a point where you may arrive in the future?  In so doing, you condemn yourself with your own words.

I will not here attempt to convince you of the validity of any private revelation.  But why do you so readily condemn them?  Medjugorje, for instance, has been scrutinized by the Church for many years and she has not yet found any need to condemn it. The fruits are astonishing, the endorsements are ringing, and the miracles testify.  Yet I have seen people, with great vitriol, denounce the alleged visionaries as malicious frauds or demonically possessed people.  Not only that, but they do so with such great perceived certainty in their own conclusion that one would think they were reciting the Nicene Creed. They say they are “absolutely certain” it is a false apparition because some associated Franciscan was disobedient or the visionaries didn’t enter the religious life.  Why not permit a healthy fear of the Lord to give you wisdom from the example of those seemingly confident Catholics who denounced as evil St. Faustina, St. Padre Pio, St. Joan of Arc, etc.?

 Nor will I attempt to convince you of my opinion on the John Corapi matter.   I will not deny that his actions may have been less than saintly nor will I argue that his actions are entirely unjustifiable.  But let us take a deep breath and recollect ourselves: He has been one of the greatest defenders of Truth in the world, has never endorsed a heresy, and is now following a path that countless people before him have followed and not received the vitriol of the “blogosphere.”  Are we his judges or is God?  All devout souls ought to limit their publicized words on Corapi to a sensible statement like EWTN’s.  But instead we have well known faithful Catholics spewing great venom at him.  Dc. Kandra, in the first paragraph of his article on the subject, abandons common manners by calling Corapi’s statement “bizarre” and “rambling.”  Then Dc. Kandra unjustly concludes, from Corapi merely relaying how he spent his time, that to Corapi the sacraments “… really didn’t matter so much.”  Mark Shea (also extremely well-known and highly regarded), in his post, declares that Corapi “Sets world record… for most passive-aggressive manipulative self-aggrandizement ever squeezed into 8 and a half minutes.” and continues to lambaste him in the following paragraph  (Shea apologized for his attitude but stopped short of deleting his post which continues to pile on views.).  What is going on here?

(Update: on 6/24 Mark Shea removed the post I have here quoted.  Thank you, Mark.  I urge you next to read Page 70 of the Pieta prayer book and delete your other posts passing judgments on him.)

 This same vitriol pervades the speech of too many who proclaim their faithful, orthodox Catholicism.  They unknowingly direct it against mystics, visionaries, future saints, and just about any Divine Intervention that God in His Mercy graces our world with.  They oppose His efforts usually on finessed and flimsy subordinate grounds, since they lack the firm arguments that any demonically-inspired or downright-fraudulent effort would certainly provide them.  Their over-confidence in their own knowledge of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium causes them to think themselves capable of rendering inerrant judgment on all happenings in the modern world, and in so doing they become, God help them, greater obstructions to “His Will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven” than even many of the formal vicious enemies of the Church.  Oh would that they could learn the truth in the old adage “Silence is Golden!”

Not only that, but in this over-blogged, over-tweeted, over-emailed world, it seems that even Catholics quickly resort to the type of sarcastic, snickering, arrogant, mocking, lecturing, or condescending attitude that should under no circumstances be within a thousand miles of their lexicon regardless of to whom they are speaking.

I do not say that all disagreement must cease; that is impossible, and I myself have strong opinions for and against particular stances permitted within the boundaries of the Magisterium.  For example, It would be nice for the Traditionalists to gently remind the Charismatics that the objective nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is of infinitely more importance than our subjective experience of it, and it would be nice for the Charismatics to gently remind the Traditionalists that the Church is a living body and therefore grows, making Traditionalism a fundamentally insatiable appetite lest we could re-enter the Garden of Eden.  It would be wonderful if they could both do this recognizing the other as a shipmate on the Ark that is the Catholic Church, voyaging through the deluge of modern society together.  Instead they spew venom at each other, describing the other sarcastically, making each other the butt of jokes, and in general treating them as if they were the greatest evildoers alive.

May Almighty God and you, my brethren, forgive me for the many offenses I have committed against this advice I have here given – for I am indeed the worst offender.  Permit me to offer this prayer from the Precious Blood Devotion to those who, like me, struggle with this sin.  Please pray it for me as well. 

 

PRAYER FOR THE CONTROL OF THE TONGUE

Dear Holy Spirit, My God. Teach me to speak wisely.
Let me avoid useless thoughts and useless conversations. Help me to speak often for You. Grant that my words may never hurt men of goodwill. May My words always bring consolation to those in sorrow and guidance to those in need. Take my lips and make them Yours. Take possession of my mind and make it an instrument of Your goodness and a channel of truth. I hope to become a man of silence, who prefers to talk to God than to men. In my human conversation, may I always bring them closer to You and You closer to them. I ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen

Our Father. . . Hail Mary . . . Glory Be

I am unworthy to teach in detail on these subjects, but I would urge you to read more from some great sources:

June 3, 2011

Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus

Note 1/26/2014: As you see below, I write this article below concerning only the actual prayers themselves in the new Precious Blood of Jesus devotional book – a book containing a Nihil Obstat from an Archbishop. I have not researched or discerned the alleged apparition itself from which they come. I issue no firm opinion one way or the other on that, and assert that, as always, I will unconditionally submit to any Church rulings on the matter.

It was late March in the year of our Lord 2010, and I was alone on an island in the Atlantic off the coast of Georgia.  After a few miles of trekking down the pristine wilderness beach, I set up camp a short walk across the sand dunes and past the forest of massive oaks draped with Spanish moss protruding from an otherwise unbroken carpet of ancient looking saw palmettos; watching families of wild horses stroll by me on their paths and listening to armadillos scurrying around me in the underbrush.

This was no shipwreck; I was camping on Cumberland Island for several days of prayer and fasting to prepare for the cross-country Catholic road trip pilgrimage ahead of me.

Going out to an island for this purpose sounds like a great idea in theory.  But after a day of having no one to talk to, extremely hungry because the thought of any more of that plain 100% whole wheat bread (which is all you brought) nauseates you, and constantly uncomfortable because there isn’t anything to sit on; then you start to wonder what on earth you were thinking.  I admit this is the point I reached very quickly.  I had anticipated this might happen, so in addition to a couple prayer books and the Bible I brought with me one of the Lord of the Rings novels – thinking an entertaining story would suffice for taking my mind off the discomfort.  I soon found that insufficient also.  I was tired, distracted, lonely, uncomfortable, very hungry, and completely lacking the peace I hoped to find there.

I was about to give up and trek the few miles back to base camp where I could hopefully ferry back to the mainland, when I had an urge to give one more thing a try.  My friend Deacon Tom had given me a small devotional prayer book earlier; on the cover was an imposing image of Christ’s bloodied face crowned with thorns that penetrates you as soon as you glance at it, along with the words “Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional.”  I picked up this small book and my rosary beads and, taking nothing else with me, made for the beach.  There was God’s answer to my troubles.  I simply opened up the book and started praying its contents.  I walked for miles along those perfect shores, going through page after page.

The Rosary, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, the Litany of the Precious Blood, the Consecration to the Precious Blood, the Consolation Prayers, the Adoration Prayers, the Anguished Appeals, the Mystical Prayers… on I went, for hours.  My fervency only grew as I continued to pray and walk.  The power of these prayers was surging through me and making me forget all my worries.  Before my eyes in no vague terms was the sacrifice that Jesus made, and its depiction brought constant tears to my eyes.  After many hours of dryness and complete inability to focus for one minute, I now found myself almost incapable of speaking out loud a single line of these prayers without being struck with the need to weep in prayerful thanksgiving for all that He went through for me.   This was my first major introduction to devotion to the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and my initial inspiration for sticking with its demanding regimen.

We are usually best off ignoring dreams, but sometimes we are given one that we know contains a sign from God. In one that I had soon after my time on Cumberland Island, I beheld the terribly scourged Jesus crouching down on the ground, enduring unimaginable misery.  I went to Him and embraced Him tenderly and held Him, weeping bitterly, as I sought to console Him.  I had a great interior sense that this attempt of mine was having a good effect.  In another, a torrent of fire and lava was spewing out from the ground in a nearby city, such that it had almost reached the front steps of my home.  At this, I ran out to the porch with my Rosary beads and, falling to my knees, began praying the chaplet of the Precious Blood.  The flow of fire stopped just short of our home as I did this.  In yet another, I witnessed a close friend of mine who is a Deacon wielding off evil spirits with “The Prayer to Vanquish Satan and his Agents,” given to Barnabas by Jesus as a part of this devotion.

But my personal experiences merely confirm what I see with my reason: the extreme power of this devotion and its perfect fit for the age in which we live.  In many ways I see this devotion as an attack against the great evils of today.  One of these is fluffy Catholicism.  The type that disdains any mention of crucifixes, blood, penance, the Wrath of God, evil, demons, Satan, or sin.  This devotion is the most unabashed possible diametric opposite of such lukewarm, modernistic false teaching.  Just look at “The Agonizing Crucifix,” which is a major aspect of the Precious Blood Devotion, and behold the cover of the daily devotional prayer book:

But this does not mean it is a Jansenistic devotion; focusing only on God’s wrath, sin, and our unworthiness.  Quite the contrary it is full of hope and mercy; see these excerpts from some of its prayers:  “We appreciate your benevolence and solicit Your continued loving kindness… O loving Jesus Christ, Whose mercy is endless, we adore Your Agonizing Heart which bears great pains and sorrows for the salvation of man… Heavenly Father, Your love is eternal.  In Your ocean of love, You saved the world through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ…Merciful and loving Father, Your wish is that all men shall be saved… Eternal Father, You are the creator and author of life.  You love the world You made… You are the only Immortal God, God who is love, merciful and kind.”

This devotion is equally unabashed in its condemnation of homosexuality, abortion, modern fashions, unworthy communions, irreverence toward the Eucharist, fornication, adultery, immodesty, worldly priests, justifying sin by simply planning to confess it, taking the Lord’s name in vain, neglecting to keep the Sabbath, the forsaking of vows, and criticizing instead of praying for the Church (in short, all of those sins which modernist heretics and lukewarm Catholics within and without the Church want us to accept and welcome).  It is highly concerned with purgatory, the protection of the clergy, the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts, reparation to the Eternal Father, offering ones-self as a victim soul to be in agony with Jesus, the Sacred Side of Jesus, and the invocation of St. Michael the Archangel.

It is traditional without being traditionalistic.  Highly recommended as part of this daily devotion is all twenty decades of the Rosary; required is at least 5 a day.  Contained within the pages are the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Litany of Saints, as well as the original long prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. It opens up with remarks by Blessed John Paul II on “Christ’s Blood, Source of Salvation.”

Finally, if you will forgive the slight vulgarity, this devotion seems to me like “Divine Mercy on Steroids;” taken up a few notches in fervency and in graphic truth in stride with the urgency and gravity of our times.  This devotion is fearlessly apocalyptic in nature.  It gives no dates, of course, but does speak of the Antichrist and the Red Dragon.  “The great day of darkness is coming… Wake up, my children for evangelization!… Persist in your work of salvation now!  Call my people back to me,” says Jesus to Barnabas.  Are these “gloom and doom” words, insisting that people sell their possessions or stock up on food and ammunition?  Not at all!  What enormous privileges you choose to deprive yourself of when you permit the false prophets, those who insist upon fixed dates or who claim security through worldly means or preach heresies like the rapture and millenarianism, to cause you to turn your back on the true prophets: those who fearlessly proclaim that the time of mercy is running out and we must step up our efforts in fighting for the Kingdom and spiritually readying ourselves for chastisements which are to precede a Glorious Reign of Peace (otherwise known as the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart).  You may respond “I live my life as a Catholic so that I may die any day, why need I bother with this?”  It is well and good that you live as such.  But with those words do you categorically reject prophecy?  Do you willingly call down upon yourself the condemnation of the holy Apostle St. Paul who demands that you “despise not prophecy” (cf 1 Thess 5:20)?  Would you reject Jonah’s call to penance and convince your household to do likewise, thus refusing the mercy that God desired to grant Nineveh?  Oh devout soul: it is not your place to decide what Heaven ought to say.  It is your place to prayerfully discern what you are presented with so as to sift out the false prophets, hear what Heaven has said, and do as you are told.

Right now, what we are being told is very clear.  Seek out your Divine battle orders by lending your ear to the Hound of Heaven who has graced our age with such unfathomable mercy in apparitions, visions to Saints, and powerful devotions like the one I speak of here, but also: St. Faustina and Divine Mercy.  Our Lady at Fatima, Medjugorje, Kibeho, Akita, Garabandal.  Fr. Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests.  Maria Esparanza, Louisa Piccarreta, Ann the lay apostle, Therese Neuman, and so many more!

 

Can I say with certainty these are all valid?  Of course not, but they all say essentially the same thing, and I am enormously confident at least some of them are valid.  With obedience to the Magisterium and a solid foundation in Scripture and Catechism, you need not lay idle in paralyzing fear of falling into error.  Instead, proceed with courage and prudence, trusting in Jesus.

It is convenient and easy to open up the Precious Blood of Jesus Daily Devotional, or anything similar, and say “that kind of stuff is not for me.”  It is that same convenience that the agnostic strives after in choosing not to develop a belief about God.  But that is no longer possible.  The marks are being placed.  The time for neutrality is over; the battle is beginning.