The Papal Interview & The Pro Lifers

Dear Brethren,

First, forgive me for adding yet another commentary on this issue that is already far too commented upon by far better Catholics than I; I do so because I feel I must.

I must because the morale of the greatest saints I know may be at risk (those dedicated humble souls who day after day bear all the suffering that comes with praying and sidewalk counseling outside abortion mills, and do so with the greatest love and gentleness) at an important moment: today being the eve of the start of the Fall 40 Days for Life campaign. I will share, by way of  personal story at the end of this, what I believe he did mean, but for now let me tell you what he did not mean.

Pope Francis did not mean “stay away from the abortion mills, stop praying outside of them, stop counseling the women outside of them and evangelizing passersby.” He did not even mean “take it easy on that; don’t be so zealous for it.” He meant the absolute opposite; he meant that the woundedness of our generation, thanks to its sinfulness, is so incredibly great that it no longer suffices in any degree (as it perhaps once did – to a degree) for the Church as a whole to merely make her opposition to evil known by way of denunciation.

He is not insisting upon falling back in surrender to a more comfortable spot of easy-going friendliness to the world; a succumbing to the times (which Benedict condemned as “blind conformity to the spirit of this age”); a softening of teachings; a shift of focus from sign-of-contradiction to just-getting-along.Kneeling outside Abortion Clinic

Rather, he is insisting upon a radical advance; an advance to the level of the saints, that is to say, the level of Christ. The level of the One for Whom it was not enough merely to denounce evil; but Who instead annihilated it by permitting it to nail Him to a cross. If the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, then it must follow His life. I believe Francis is saying that we have now reached Gethsemane.

Francis is not saying that we must go from activist to apathetic. He is saying we must go from activist to warrior, and so long as the Satanic Prince of this World is in power (and he is now more than ever) – that is done by suffering violence, not by using it. As the woman getting an abortion feels the agonizing assault of her conscience, so we must stand or kneel on the sidewalks and bear with love the angry jeers of pro-abortion passersby, the cold snow and hot sun, and the alienation of certain friends and family members who will have none of that “fanaticism;” and even moreso we must look into the eyes of the women going in, feel their pain, and tell them that God became man in the womb of the Virgin so that we could be set free.

Were I to be asked just what it was I thought Pope Francis was saying, I would relay two personal stories:

Three years ago I was on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. I had foolishly not followed the advice given to pilgrims – to have a heartfelt confession be among your first activities – and had put it off for a whole week. That week was full of blessings, but I also struggled. I was not at peace with my pilgrimage group and was losing much due to that; some of them had behaviors that troubled me, I was bothered by their sinfulness, and some of them were not even Catholics. I remained reserved and ineffective in conversations with them because of what was likely a subconscious fear that I would be confronted with their sins or imperfections and have to deal with that. Finally I made it to that most merciful Sacrament, and tried my best to open my soul to a very holy Franciscan priest (a CFR). He paused, and said “… I’m not sure how else to say this, but: you’re not the Savior of the World. Jesus is.” It was as if a demon was exorcised from me. Afterwards I was able to see the person before the sin, have a Christlike love for them, and even enjoy their company. Ironically (but not really), it was only then that I was able to influence them away from sin by my witness.

In college, after I had reawakened to my Faith and was growing in zeal for its promulgation, I came to recognize that the vast majority of Catholics were, objectively speaking, in a state of grave sin. I had to do something about it. My engineering mind went to work and I put together a printout of what I deemed to be the most common sanctifying grace depriving behaviors there were (e.g. certain sexual sins, skipping Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day, etc.), so that I could post them everywhere, and people would then at least know. I neglected to consider that I was being far less gentle with others by employing methods like these (which, thankfully, remained uncompleted works in progress) than the Holy Spirit had been with me, in bringing about my own conversion. My methods are now far different and far more effective, but still with the same aim and the same motive: salvation, and love, respectively. Instead of the sin list, I now hand out this card that I made and printed 10,000 of. I speak first and foremost about the Divine Mercy, the love of Our Lady, the ease with which Our Lord is approached, and the like.  I urge you to do something similar.

I believe, in fact, that Pope Francis is merely trying to teach the whole Church what most dedicated sidewalk prayer warriors and sidewalk counselors already know, for they learned it through that very ministry.  They learned it by by seeing some misguided yet zealous soul shouting “murderer” at a woman on her way in, or standing and scowling with a sign, that reads in huge letters, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL.” Their hearts recognized that such an approach was not Christlike, and they even observed the complete lack of effectiveness of that approach. So they chose to approach the matter very differently; they pray the Rosary, they bring cards with the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Guadalupe on them, they assure each and every man and woman going into those places of death that they love them and are praying for them, they talk about the mercy of Jesus, the love of God, and the power of Our Lady. They endure much suffering on those sidewalks, but they bear incredible fruit. It is as if they heard this very interview long ago, and followed its spirit perfectly, for in the interview our Holy Father said “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner… it is necessary to accompany them [sinners] with mercy … when we speak about these issues [abortion, etc.], we have to talk about them in a context… Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials: this… is what makes the heart burn…ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently…Picture4

But he is also trying to teach the Church that lesson that brought them from merely being pro-life and denouncing abortion to being a sidewalk counselor or sidewalk prayer warrior: “[What] the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds… it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle…There is always the lurking danger of living in a laboratory…you cannot bring home the frontier, but you have to live on the border and be audacious…it is one thing to have a meeting to study the problem of drugs in a slum  neighborhood and quite another thing to go there…

There is nothing else he could have meant by likening what we ought to be to a field hospital. It is as if he had said “your anti-war activism and pacifist principles are correct, but milquetoast. You need to feel the bullets whizzing by your head; you need to risk their implantation into your heart, and you must immediately go bandage up up your brothers and sisters who are dying of their wounds in the battlefield from this unjust war.”

I know that I am called to spend more time outside of abortion mills these 40 days than I have in the recent past. This Papal interview reminds me of that. I pray you feel this call as well, and know that our Holy Father will thank you for it, if not in this life, then at Judgment Day. But it is not even Pope Francis whom we do this for, after all; it is Our Lord, Who sees us every moment and knows our heart. Follow the conviction of your heart with greater zeal than ever; do not permit the devil to snatch that great gift away by means of misinterpretation of a Papal interview, or secular media spin thereof. Rather, be further inspired by its powerful true meaning. If you only knew the reward that awaits you for your faithfulness, you would die for joy and receive it now.

In Christ, through Mary,

Daniel

A Letter to a Relative/An Introduction to Theology of the Body

Dear Friends,

My wedding to Regina last month was a truly blessed occasion in every way! I cannot say how joyous I am, about that day in particular, but more so about the Sacrament we entered into on that day. I hope to soon write a post about our wedding and our honeymoon (a road trip pilgrimage to various holy sites in the Eastern half of the U.S.).

Before then, though, I would like to share something that has come up a little more recently regarding the wedding Mass itself. The priest who officiated delivered a powerful, beautiful, edifying, and uncompromising homily. It was the type of homily that, if we had more of over the past several decades, society never would have been able to sink so low.  He was very clear in speaking the truth about marriage and the dangers posed by the same-sex “marriage” legislation in our nation. This very much upset certain family members (there were homosexual(s) in attendance), and we were made aware of this via email three weeks after the wedding.

In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household … will be divided …”

I post this today to encourage you all to be witnesses in the world, and even in your own families. We must never pursue division, for in itself it is a bad thing, but we must be willing to accept it if it comes as a result of us sharing the truth in charity. Remember, never fear the truth, but also always favor gentleness and meekness, so that when we are persecuted, it is truly for the sake of righteousness, and not because there actually was something in our approach, itself worthy of reproach.

Here is my (anonymized) response to the concerned relative that I sent out via email a couple days ago – I always like to use occasions like this as an opportunity to provide a brief introduction to the Theology of the Body, and I encourage you all to do the same! This particular email was sent to a non-Christian, so I could not appeal to Scripture or Church teaching (which I would were I addressing this to a Christian or a Catholic, respectively)

Dear______,

Thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know how you felt about what was said in the homily of my wedding Mass. Please know that I am always open to hearing about such things, even if they are hard to say. I hope that all of my family members always consider me approachable on anything.

I understand that you and others felt hurt by the chosen words of Father during the homily. You are absolutely right that this was not my intention (thank you for recognizing that before I even had to say so); it is never my intention that anyone be hurt, especially not anyone in my own family. Please know that as I was up there before the altar, I was praying with all of my heart for those in my family who I feared would indeed feel hurt.

How I wish we could live in a world where hurt was not necessary, or that when it was necessary, it could be I who had to endure it instead of those dear to me. We all believe things that hurt others (merely in the act of our believing of them), and then even more hurt ensues when we vocalize these beliefs. We have to be prudent about when to speak, but we cannot always be silent. I am so glad that, over the years, there have been occasions where family members have said things that hurt at the time, but helped me after the fact to grow overall.

In that regard, I do not deem my own wedding to be a time when silence was called for; a time when we were gathering together to celebrate the holiness of matrimony to be a time when the foundational truths of marriage remain unstated lest someone feel hurt.

And since we have now arrived at the crux of the matter – the foundational truths of marriage-, please allow me to explain my beliefs, lest the popular portrayal of them leave you tempted to see me as hateful or bigoted. See that in what follows, I am not appealing to the authority of the Church or even of the Bible; but merely to what our Creator has written directly in all of our bodies and souls.

Though reductionistic modern thought sometimes insists people to regard sex as a mere chromosomal quality or difference in a few organs, anyone with wisdom knows better. What strikes you first whenever you see a person, and what you remember the longest, is that person’s sex. After humanity itself, sex is one’s most essential attribute; for it is not merely a trait – it is not something about a person like height or skin color – but rather it is who that person is. Try as you might, you cannot change your sex; you have it from the moment of your conception and you maintain it for all time and eternity. One can no more change from a man into a woman than he can change from a man into a dog. Language itself is and always has been well aware of this. It is demeaning to refer to a person as “it,” and grammatically incorrect to refer to a person as “they.” You have to refer to a person as a “he” or a “she.” There is no other way, and there ought not be any other way.

After recognizing the unsurpassably fundamental nature of sex, we have to ask “what does this truth mean? what does it teach us about how we are to live and believe?” – for God teaches not primarily through Scripture or the Church, but primarily through our very design. As soon as we have the honesty to ask this question, the answer becomes obvious: neither the male body nor the female body makes any sense in isolation. Each is expressly designed to be given to the other. Therefore this meaning of sexuality that we now seek is the gift of self. A man or a woman is made, from the very beginning, to be a gift to another. Only in becoming this gift is he or she fulfilling the meaning of his or her being and existence.

Sexual intimacy is the greatest physical mode of expression of this gift of self. We can make a sort of gift of ourselves to many others of either sex in many ways; but when it comes to sexual intimacy – the ultimate physical gift of self in its entirety – there is one place alone in which it is properly expressed and, in that place, made beautiful and honorable; namely, in the marriage of a man and a woman. To give the gift of self in the form of sexual intimacy, in any other fashion, is a lie against the very nature of the gift (and remember that this applies to any use whatsoever of sexual intimacy outside of this setting; not merely to homosexual acts); akin to wrapping up rotting trash to put under the Christmas tree just because you enjoy watching the children unwrapping gifts. We know what the culmination of that lie would be; the children devastated and the parents’ utter loss of the very enjoyment they were pursuing in their deceitful gift giving. The culmination of lying with the very gift of self that is sexuality is like that, but far darker and more destructive.

As we all know, a lie is an intrinsically disordered thing; it is an act that is never good or beautiful because it is never true. I sympathize with people who have dispositions towards certain types of lies; I respect their dignity and I love them. But I can never participate in what I know full well to be a lie; not by praise, and not even by silence. For me to do so would not be love; it would be hatred. For me to support, or even for me to fail to oppose, any legislation aimed at institutionalizing, encouraging, or confirming any one of those lies would be also be hateful.

That all being said, Father’s words during his homily are not the words I would have chosen were I to address a person who is proudly living the gay lifestyle (I am sure they are also not the words with which he would intentionally address a gay person; please keep in mind that he was speaking to a congregation of 300 people, the vast majority of whom were devout Catholics. I know him well and he is extremely compassionate to all.). Given that opportunity, I would say:

“You are an especially beloved child of God. Were you the only person on this Earth that could be saved, just as you are now, He still would have come down from heaven and given up His life for you. Not only that, but nothing you have done or will do can lessen this love. Even now you are not far away from Him; you need not undergo a long and arduous process of self-reform before approaching and being accepted by Him; you need only turn to Him. It is as easy as saying, with your heart, ‘Jesus, I am sorry. Help me.’ All He needs is your desire for Him – even if at this moment your desire for Him is more in the form of merely feeling a distaste for those specific aspects of your lifestyle that displease Him and an admission that you ought to be rid of them. Do not let yourself or anyone else tell you that you are “dirty” to Him; on the contrary, you are more precious than the entire universe, and if you only appeal to His mercy, then He would never and can never reject you.”

I cannot apologize for the substance of what Father said; I will always stand by it even with my very life. But I hope what I said here has cleared up any worries you may have had about my approach to homosexual persons, and helped you to understand more why I believe what I do.  If at times my behavior appears strange or my motives unclear, know this: there are really only two things I care about, and I strive to bring every single thought, word, and deed of my life in conformity with them: to know, love, and serve a certain Man who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, and to bring others to do the same, for I know with the certainty of Faith that we will all see Him the moment after we die.

With much love and prayers always,

In Christ, through Mary,

Danny

One Practical Tip to Help Make You into a Saint

The Eucharist alone is our source of holiness. Only from it will you find the grace to become a saint.

The tip is simply this: Each day, strive to have absolutely no idea how many people were at Mass. (note: this is just a tip that will work for some and is impractical or inapplicable to others for miscellaneous reasons. No worries!)

How is this achieved?

By arriving early for prayerful preparation, sitting towards the front of the Church, keeping your eyes on the sanctuary – the Altar, the Tabernacle, the crucifix especially -, keeping your head down during Communion time, and remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving. Do all this and you will not even be able to answer somebody who says to you “so how many people were at Mass today?

Arriving Early: At Medjugorje, Our Lady laments that if we had any idea what a grace Holy Mass truly was, we would always prepare for at least an hour. Angels tremble before what you are about to witness – it really is worth ten minutes to ready your soul for.

Sitting Towards the Front: This is obviously the main point that will not apply to many of you, and that is fine! But if you can, I would advise sitting near the front. The unfortunate fact is that many today have no desire to be reverent at Mass, and it is better to not have such people in our line of sight, which will distract us, or worse, tempt us to pass judgments on them.

Eucharist

Keeping Your Eyes on the Sanctuary: Of the thousands of Masses I have attended, I can think of only a few in which something has happened that has demanded action from me. I say this because it is extremely unlikely that there is any reason whatsoever for you to look at the noise that just came from the side or the back of the Church. Nor do you need to know who walked in late, nor do you need (except in extremely rare cases) to whisper something to your spouse or your friend with whom you are attending Mass. There is no better analogy for an aspiring saint than that of a soldier; we are indeed the Church Militant. Therefore let your focus be that of warrior.

Keeping your head down during Communion time: How much it must pain Our Lord when we use those few precious moments where His substantial presence remains in us (or those few moments leading up to that heavenly embrace) to entertain vain ponderings about other people at Mass; that is more lamentable than a newlywed couple watching television on their wedding night.

Remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving:  Our Lord’s substantial (yes, that truly means physical) presence remains in us for approximately 15 minutes after receiving the Host – this is a simple theological/biological conclusion. It makes no sense to pray at all if we are not going to take full advantage of those 15 minutes, unparalleled in their power to sanctify. To desire sanctity but make a habit of leaving Church shortly after receiving and immediately concerning yourself with worldly affairs while He resides in you may not be an intrinsic evil, but it is at least incredibly foolish. It is like a student who wants an A, but sleeps through his examinations, hoping to increase his grade by meticulously completing his homework assignments later.

This is just one tip: the bottom line in the appropriation of the graces poured out upon you at Holy Mass is that you must be reverent, fervent, and focused – enraptured in so far as that is within the power of your will (wherein alone all merit lies) to accomplish. If ever a complaint about anything whatsoever – the world, other Catholics, your life – enters your mind as you are assisting at Mass, remember the words of Pope St. Pius X, where he attributed all the evil in the world to lukewarm Catholics; and there is no better way to be counted among this sorry group of souls than by neglecting to respond to the awesomeness of the Mass – nor is there any better way to be counted among the saints than by your faith, hope, love, and holy fear at Mass, and the wrapping of your entire being around the Eucharistic Lord you receive at it, that He alone may be the “source and summit” of your life.

My Engagement to Regina

Dear Friends,

With great joy, I would like to announce my engagement to Regina Marie Elizabeth Rose Wagner. She and I will be joined in Holy Matrimony this upcoming summer on July 13th!

Although I could go on for many pages expounding upon the joy, the inspiration, the contentment, the peace, and the spiritual growth I have been blessed with, by my relationship with her and the anticipation of my marriage to her, I will restrain myself and reserve this particular post to just giving a general idea of our relationship.

I had been striving with great effort, but not with great success, to discern God’s call in my life for years before meeting Regina, and she too was in a position of uncertainty and confusion as to what she was supposed to do next in her life. The time was August 2011, and it was in this setting that we both decided (before even knowing about each other), a mere few weeks before the beginning of the semester, that we would enroll in Holy Apostles College & Seminary right away. I did so having been given a clear sign from God (during a cross country voyage) that I was supposed to do that, and Regina did so also having a clear interior conviction that she was called to enroll, last minute, as a lay student at this same school. Up until this point we both had been quite settled on entirely different plans for the upcoming months and years in our life, but God had a different idea, rearranged our life circumstances to make it work, and made sure that we both followed it.

Now I had entered as a self-funded seminarian (not wanting to experiment on my diocese’ dollar), as the sign I was given made it clear this was what I was supposed to do, despite at that time having no more conviction of a calling from God to the priesthood than I had in the preceding years. Nevertheless, I entered the seminary with a general intention of becoming a priest, but also with a great openness to a different vocational direction if He showed that to me.

Holy Apostles is a college and seminary, so Regina and I had several classes together. Being a seminarian at the time, I of course had to strictly maintain a friendship with her and no more, but through getting to know her, constant prayer to God for guidance (especially after receiving Communion each day), and discerning the call on my heart, it became completely clear to me that I was meant for her. And since we began our courtship (after I had finished my semester as a seminarian), the joy that I have been given through her has been evident to all of my friends who knew me through my discernment process, and they unhesitatingly congratulate me for finding what so clearly is my calling. I now know to thank God for all the struggle I went through in discernment for years, because by it I now rest with such peace in the anticipation of my vocation: to soon be sacramentally united to her, as one flesh before God. In that peace all of the fears and anxieties that once assailed me regarding my calling, simply melt away; as they had begun to even from my first conversation with Regina. There is so much more I want to say about Regina; how I felt so clearly drawn to everything about her, but I will have to save any more for another time.

We began our courtship on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8th, 2011. The year of courtship that followed was truly blessed, and through it we both grew so much closer to God and to each other. Prayer served as our foundation and our strength. The daily reception of Jesus in the Eucharist was the source and summit of this prayer life, and whenever possible we would attend Mass together. Along with her Son, Our Lady was at the center of our relationship from the start, and the daily Rosary was our anchor. Spiritual reading directed us, as we always concurrently read three pages of the same spiritual book each day, and St. Faustina’s diary was our greatest joy in this regard. The daily 3 o’clock Divine Mercy Chaplet was indispensable to the formation of our relationship, and our weekly prayers outside the local abortion mill grounded us in love of neighbor. Frequent confession was our remedy for weakness, which we, like all, indeed suffer from.

Through all of this I truly found myself growing closer to God in a way that I had previously been incapable of, and this was yet another confirmation to me that Regina indeed is my vocation. Prayer, fasting, and works of mercy come more readily and easily thanks to my relationship with her, and I had a new-found desire and strength to rid my life of vices to which I had previously adopted a far too complacent attitude.
I would like to share the following prayer, which I wrote for both Regina and me to pray each day, towards the beginning of our courtship.

Mother most Pure, to whose fiat “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word,” humanity owes its salvation, I beseech thee to present my petition to thy Divine Son Jesus; that we may always properly see and treat each other as children of God to be loved and served, and never as objects to be used for pleasure; that we may love each other with a perfect, pure, and disinterested love. Please send thy Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit, upon
us, that we may rightly discern the will of thy Son, and incline our hearts unto it so that, whatever it may be, we shall follow it with joy. Help us to be in love with thy Son first and above all, knowing that any good thing we see in each other is a mere diminished reflection of the glory of Him who created us both, and that the love we hold for each other is nothing but a small flame next to the consuming fire of love coming forth from His most Sacred Heart, this love that he passionately holds for each of us so far exceeding any passionate love we feel for each other.

Immaculate Mother of Mercy, we place all of these petitions in thy hands with complete trust and confidence.

*Memorare…*
*Reading…* (our spiritual reading for the day)

On December 8th, 2012, Regina and I were engaged to be married. I proposed to Regina in the Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel at school, and immediately afterwards we completed our 33 day consecration to Our Lady, and did a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, laying our engagement and our lives at the feet of Mary, and Jesus in the Eucharist. Feel free to watch the YouTube video below, where Regina gives more details on the proposal itself!

I would also like to share this consecration prayer which I wrote for Regina and me to pray together on our knees before the statue of Our Lady, immediately following our engagement. I desired to, as the first act of our engagement, give it all to Mary:

     Dear Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, we kneel before you today and lay at your feet, as the first act of our engagement, our selves, our relationship, our betrothal, and our future marriage. All of our trust is in you and in your Son, Jesus. We earnestly give all that we have and all that we are to you, and with absolute confidence in the Mercy of your Son, we humbly beseech you to do as you will with this offering, whatever that may entail.
We lay our engagement on your altar and beg of you to use it for your own intentions; the salvation of souls, the deliverance of the holy souls in Purgatory, peace in the world, the consolation of the Two Hearts of Love, and the hastening of the Triumph of Your Immaculate Heart.
O Immaculate Mary, Mother of Mercy, free from any stain of sin, grant that we too may be without sin, especially at the hour of our death. Our only fear is that we may fail to flee to your protection, for we wish to be nothing but your devoted children.
Mary, we love you. Take us as your own.

Happy 22nd birthday, Regina. I love you with all of my heart!

Les Mis Reconsidered: A Plea for Total Purity

Forenote: Dear friends, please know that I am not rebuking anyone merely for thinking that this movie is overall very good. I beg you to read all that follows with prayer and an open heart. My thanks to you all.

I am finding myself saddened that some good Catholics today are defending the entirety, without any qualification, of the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables. I hope by reading what follows you will understand why this is so.

I have not seen, nor will I see this movie in theaters, so my comments here are based off of what I have read about the movie.Mother Most Pure

My first pain is this: There is no such thing as fully fictional live-action movie. Those actors and actresses are real people, real children of God. When their dignity is violated, Our Lord weeps and is crucified anew. It is no use saying, of some scene in which this occurs, “it’s fine because it was necessary to develop the story, which has a good lesson” or whatever other justification; they really had to do what you’re seeing on the screen. We must never tolerate them being used as means instead of ends- even if they themselves insist they have no problem with it.  It could not possibly matter less if there is a director somewhere out there who is capable of converting the entire world to Christ with one movie if he can only just get two actors to commit adultery with each other and record it for one of the scenes; it cannot be done. Period.  It does not matter if the story is great, and the overall message is a powerful force for good. You can never do evil that good may come of it.

Some say “even Scripture depicts scenes of grave depravity, like this movie does.” But Scripture is written words; it is not using people as objects, as a movie like Les Mis uses actors and actresses as objects. Further, and this is what is truly causing me to agonize, as it affects all the millions who go to see this movie: when sexual depravity like that is graphically displayed, it taints even the viewer. We fail to recognize this because today we have lost the sense of guarding the eyes, as the Psalms direct. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes...” – Ps 101:3. Now God is merciful and often permits what we did not consent to setting before us pass quickly from our memory and not do us great harm. But to willingly watch those scenes, to choose not to avert the eyes, to plan to see the movie (and those scenes) again, to recommend this movie to others without warning, and to specifically defend the objectionable scenes in this movie, can only ultimately result in the serious decay of the soul, resolvable only by repentance.

To willingly hold that sin before one’s eyes is to participate in it – the lover of pornography is little different from the adulterer. Some respond “but I did not like those scenes per se, as the pornography viewer does, I agree with their existence and like them insofar as they contributed to an excellent story.” But the moral object under consideration is precisely the same as with the pornography viewer, and a human act with an evil object is never good, no matter the intention. Beware, rationalizations do not mitigate culpability; they increase it. Remember that Our Lord had much more of an affinity for the prostitutes than the Pharisees.  Further, to indulge in those scenes for the sake of enjoying the overall story is no different than delightfully drinking well flavored poison for the taste; it happens often to children with Flintstone’s vitamins, but adults are supposed to know better.

God can and will bring good out of those scenes; He brings good out of everything. But when, in His omnipotence and inscrutable wisdom, He chooses to permit an evil that a good may come, He is not asking for our help in that task. Christ put it plainly: “Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh” – Matthew 18:7

Note: My words here are not for those who saw the movie, thought it was great overall, but took issue with those scenes (that can be a valid stance on Les Mis), even though I do think they should have been more prudent and waited for it to come out on DVD so they could turn it off before those scenes came before their eyes. I do plan to see it, but only with someone who has seen it already and is sure he can tell me exactly when to turn it off so I do not risk imprinting such uncleanness on my soul – the windows to which are the eyes. Rather, my words are for those Catholics who choose to serve as an accessory to the sin of those scenes — really choosing to consent to, praise, and defend them specifically.

Edit: Again, I have not seen the movie, but by “those scenes,” I am referring to  the scene in Fantine’s chamber and perhaps also the Santa scene

Our Lord Crowned

Update 2/22/2013: I would like to provide two excerpts from authoritative Magisterial sources that I pray will convince any Catholic who might be tempted to defend the existence of those scenes:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2354: “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties… It is a grave offense.” As you can see, the definition of pornography, provided by the Church, does not require that the act in question be portrayed in a positive light, glorified, encouraged, etc. It consists in (i.e. intent is irrelevant) merely being removed from the intimacy of partners and displayed to a third party. Further, it does not matter if the act is occurring in reality: its simulation (as I assume was the case in the filming of Les Mis) suffices for this unequivocal condemnation by the Church.

Humanae Vitae: “… every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization… It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture”  Art has no right, even when it does explore the darker aspects of humanity, to display obscenity, as those scenes in Les Mis do.

“Livestrong” Demise

 A Vindication of Wisdom, an Indictment of Cowardice, and an Exhortation to Action

I always had a great aversion to the “livestrong” craze; especially the yellow wristbands.real hope

My reason for opposing it was similar to my reason for now opposing many other things that I am often chastised for my stance against (e.g. Harry Potter, yoga, certain genres of modern music/movies/shows, etc.): we ought not compromise and accept that which merely has good that can be taken from it (helping cancer survivors, in this case) despite its foundation being bad or its main thrust being bad (which I will presently discuss).

The whole inspiration (even if this is not what an official Livestrong foundation document would state) behind the yellow wristband was the exaltation of the life of a man (Lance Armstrong) — who walked out on his wife, who faithfully stayed with him through his cancer, after his rise to fame — merely because he demonstrated skill at a specific sport; “skill” which now is revealed to be thoroughly fraudulent. The Livestrong brand of inspiration was always a type of self-centered pseudo-hope, a sorry secular substitute for the supernatural virtue of Hope bestowed by the grace of God; the God who Lance Armstrong decided he didn’t have time for, preferring that typical modern mantra “spiritual, but not religious.” Lance, they say, overcame adversity by brute will and dominated all of his competition, and we need to be motivated by that. And so they were; they plastered his face everywhere and deluged society with the yellow wristbands to call to mind his story.

And now the Almighty, as He always does (in His own time), has demolished the false Idols that stood in the place reserved to Him alone. “He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

What is the moral of the story?

A Vindication of Wisdom: If you have, with prayer, grown convicted of the spiritually harmful nature of some piece of modern culture; if you have consulted about this with Catholics holier and more learned than yourself, and if you feel a peace in your heart with condemning it, then you are probably right, and need not constantly doubt yourself.

An Indictment of Cowardice: I was always too afraid to say anything against the “Livestrong” craze because of how much of a sign of contradiction that would make of me. But we must not fear being a sign of contradiction. Remember, we live in a culture that murders one quarter of its children. Blending in nicely with such a culture is not something you’ll be proud of on Judgment Day.

An Exhortation to Action: Always act with love, and ensure that your demeanor is one absolutely dripping with mercy. But it is time to step up our zeal in promulgating Heaven’s ways, and nurturing a contempt for the world – the fruit of the third sorrowful mystery. “…you are not yet in your homeland; so go, fortified by My grace, and fight for My kingdom in human souls; fight as a king’s child would; and remember that the days of your exile will pass quickly, and with them the possibility of earning merit for heaven. I expect from you, My child, a great number of souls who will glorify My mercy for all eternity. My child, that you may answer My call worthily, receive Me daily in Holy Communion. It will give you strength…” -Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul.

*Note: I am admittedly ignorant on the details of Lance Armstrong, Livestrong, and this whole news issue. I speak only from general observations, and may have some specifics wrong.

The Unfathomable Worth of Your Knowledge

Dear Friends,

An experience this morning as I was praying outside a local Planned Parenthood struck me, and reminded me of something.

A man pulled over in his car with a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to tell us why we shouldn’t be there, why what we were doing was wrong, etc. By God’s grace I was able to mortify the temptation to wallop him in a debate on abortion (which is not a hard thing for any pro-lifer who knows a few facts to do). I strove to see the hurt inside him and addressed what I discerned to be the sickness in his heart instead of the error of the argument on his lips. After managing to give him a Rosary and a “how to pray the Rosary” card, Our Lady took his hand and did all the work. Soon after he was changed entirely; opening his heart up to me and telling me things about his past that he had never told anyone before. I spoke with him for a time, left him with some advice, assured him of my prayers, and he drove away; never to be the same again, I pray. I assure you it was not my eloquence or my own skill that did this, in any way (I did and said nothing special at all): it was merely my willingness to be an instrument, and the fact that I had just received the Eucharist, and handed it all over to Our Lady.

If you one day found yourself with a million dollars (good Catholics don’t play the lottery… so let’s say you just found gold in your backyard), would this not place upon your conscience a sense of duty to help others with it?

Most people who read this blog are good, faithful, orthodox Catholics. Catholics who understand Mary’s pivotal role, especially today. Catholics who reject none of the Church’s teachings. Catholics who understand the sin and error under which modern men labor. Catholics who know about Theology of the Body, the Gospel of Life, the apparitions of Mary, the wonders of the Rosary, the power of the Eucharist & Confession, etc. Catholics who are truly striving to become saints.

You are more rare than a millionaire.

And not only that, but the gifts you have make you far more powerful than a rich man of any net worth to bring even temporal good to souls. Let Bill Gates pour countless millions into his aid programs. By spreading your knowledge, you do far more than he in bringing even temporal good to the world. Consider that you will be aiding in the salvation of souls, and his work compared to yours is not even noticeable.

Some activists rightly protest pharmaceutical companies refusing to mass-distribute their vaccines in Africa even though they could easily afford to do so and thereby avert massive human suffering. But how much more lamentable is it for such a Catholic to keep dormant in his own mind this salvation causing knowledge? It is far more precious than gold, far more precious than any vaccine. And there are far fewer excuses for it to remain unused.

Be convinced, brethren, for it is absolutely true, that you have the remedy to the ills of those around you. Having this remedy leaves one and only one option: finding and pursuing chances to use it, no matter the cost to yourself.

You may say: But what can I do?  I want so badly to evangelize, to spread God’s truth, to fight for the salvation of souls… but I don’t know what to do.

Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Pray outside your local abortion mill (bring a friend with you). Especially if this is in a high-pedestrian traffic area, conversation will be sparked. Designate one person in your group to talk to people who want to talk, and have the rest continue praying as this occurs.
  • Always wear an external sign of the Faith. A clearly visible crucifix, a lapel pin of Jesus and Mary, etc. People will ask you about it, and about the faith that is behind it.
  • Be prepared. I proudly carry my “man purse” with me almost all the time, with a zipper pocket in it devoted to evangelization. I am never without rosary beads, how to say the rosary cards, divine mercy cards, Our Lady of Guadalupe cards, brown scapulars, and miraculous medals. These channels of grace will supplement the truth you bestow by your words.
  • Make your strong views in some way public so that anyone who knows your name can find them. Might this lose you friends, make prospective employers cautious, worry your family, etc.? Yes, it might. And it will not go unrewarded. A public Facebook, a blog, an email signature quote, etc. It is time to love Jesus and Mary more than worldly comfort, my friends.
  • Whenever possible, at social gatherings, spend your time with the lowly, the unattractive, the “weird,” the unpopular, etc. These are the people who need the company and who are generally far more open to receiving the truth.
  • Visit the lonely and forgotten elderly in nursing homes. They are in dire need of your company, and a startling number are in dire need of conversion of heart in their last few hours on Earth. Minister to the poor and the needy in any way you can; for these souls are always more open to the truth.


Remember that this isn’t about a debate or an argument or a fight. Go at it with that attitude, and your voice will tremble, your hands will shake, your adrenaline will pump, your thinking will blur, and you will achieve less than nothing. This is a chance to peer into the eyes of a child of God and see, behind the facade of anger or sarcasm or whatever other demeanor, a soul that direly yearns for its Creator. You have the knowledge and grace to effect the re-establishment of that bond.  Go as a mother goes to pick up her child who has fallen; not as a cage fighter to exalt his domination.

One final note. No doubt you’d (rightly) put food on your own table with that aforementioned million dollars before using it for charity. It is the same here. Before you go out evangelizing, first make sure you are in a state of grace, the Eucharist is the center of your life, you frequent the sacrament of confession, and your devotion to Mary is true and all-consuming.

An Urgent and Dire Plea to Pastors of Souls

Why is this plea urgent?

Because we are on the precipice of events that will demand heroic virtue from faithful Catholics; and the grace to undertake heroic virtue comes primarily, for most Catholics, from their parish Church.

Why is this plea dire?

Because whether or not it is heeded will determine whether souls created by God and destined to spend eternity with Him will reach this end or will instead endure never ending fire.


This is not a compilation of advice on how to be the ideal, saintly, and extremely successful Pastor.  I am not qualified to give that advice.

This is a delineation of what I deem to be simple necessities, for pastors must not block, (and they must strive to prevent from being blocked under their roof), the channels of grace through which sanctification flows. By depriving their flocks of these channels, Pastors deprive them of the grace they will need merely to stand in the days soon to come, thereby becoming the very cause of their downfall in the same degree that a doctor who neglects to vaccinate his patients is the cause of their illness. And so, dear Pastors, strive not to neglect these Twelve Necessities.

  1. Do not permit your Church to be dominated by chatter before or after  (or, obviously, during) Mass.  These are times for silence. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of a Catholic’s life; and the prayerful preparation for it as well as the intimate 15 minutes in prayer of thanksgiving spent with His substantial presence is the means by which the graces from it are appropriated.
  2. Your doors must be open for people to come in and pray.  It may be excusable to lock them at night (but please consider always leaving them open. God will reward you.), but not during the daylight hours.  It is of no consequence how unsafe the neighborhood is; if you must strip your Church of anything that can be stolen, then so be it.  You cannot deprive your flock of the opportunity to be with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
  3. Provide a daily Mass that is open to working parishioners (preferably and usually meaning one each day either no later than 7:10 am or no earlier than 5:30pm) if there are not others nearby.  Whether or not you think they will come does not matter; they need the opportunity.
  4. You need not constantly moralize, but each and every one of your parishioners must at least know what is required of him to be in a state of grace.  This can in part be done by putting large stacks of a good Examination of Conscience at the doors and taking note of them in a homily or announcement.
  5. Announce the norms for the reception of Holy Communion at least at Christmas, Easter, Weddings, and Funerals. To fail to do so is to encourage acts of sacrilege.
  6. Do not permit your music director to choose songs that are so silly as to barely be acceptable for a kindergarten class.  Favor traditional hymns, and carefully permit new ones that are appropriate: sufficiently solemn, serious, and orthodox.
  7. Liturgical silliness, effeminacy, or childishness of any sort are essentially acts of hatred against the grown men of your congregation; with them you drive away from the sacraments all but the most perseverant devout men. Permit none of it. For example, never tell your congregation as Mass begins that they must greet those next to them, or raise their hands in prayer. No foolish tunes for the sung prayers of Mass (i.e. the Lord’s Prayer). No displaying the Parish 1st grade class’ artwork in the sanctuary.  No Blues Clues homilies. No joke readings during the final announcements (if you must have final announcements at all). No liturgical dancing. (Just to name a few violations of this necessity.)
  8. In some way; either by announcement, or sign on the door, or some other strategy, remind people to turn off their cell phones.
  9. Going to Mass must not be an occasion of sin for the male members of your flock.  You cannot permit immodest dress in Church. A gentle reminder in the bulletin or near the door of the need to be modest in Church would be a good idea.
  10. Provide significant and regular confession times, and always without fail be in the confessional during those advertised hours, whether or not you think anybody will show up.
  11. Say the black, do the red (whether at the Altar or in the Confessional).  Anything more (or less) is from the evil one. Pray for the seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit, and the reverence with which you celebrate Mass will be evident.


It would be good to do much more; host perpetual adoration, organize prayer vigils outside the local abortion mill, feed the hungry, have Legion of Mary groups, host Bible studies, encourage community, ensure your Liturgies are permeated with a sense of the sacred in every respect, have daily benedictions and novenas, etc!  But I will grant that you may not necessarily be condemned for neglecting some of these pursuits.   But I cannot so comfortably grant that with the aforementioned twelve.

Let your own personal Eucharistic devotion be the center of your life.  Consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and enshrine her as the Queen and Mother of your parish and of yourself.  Then know that you have absolutely nothing to fear.

A final note to those reading this who are not priests: I have written this in blunt and strong terms because this is indeed a dire and an urgent issue; not because I desire to judge, criticize, or imply there is culpability on any priest in particular.  They were called by Christ and have given up their lives to bring you the sacraments.  They are attacked by demons more viciously than you could imagine. With a word from their lips, almighty God is made physically present on the altar and the most heinous sins are forever annihilated from your soul. Pray for them, fast for them, and dare not judge or criticize or gossip about them.

Flee to the Divine Mercy as Individuals

Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you have done… now is the time to flee to His Divine Mercy.  Please do not delay this one single more day

Some of you have committed great sins; the remorse over them dominates your life and drains you of any hint of the joy that seems now like nothing but a faint memory in the most distant recesses of your soul.  To you I say that all the bad you have done taken together is nothing but a miniscule drop in the vast ocean of His mercy, and you need only raise your eyes to Him to see that He is right next to you, waiting for you, with open arms.

Jesus, I Trust in You

Some of you have spent your entire life seeking meaning and have gotten nowhere; and in this pursuit you have exhausted hordes of self-help books, self-professed gurus, 12-step programs, diet regimens, fitness regimens, pills, self-esteem buildup workshops, and anything and everything that seems like it might provide the epiphany and renewal you crave. To you I say that this thirst of your soul can only be quenched by the one who created you and desires to give Himself entirely to you as you give yourself entirely to Him.

Some of you have nobody, have nothing, and see no light at the end of the dark tunnel you tread; and just to see happiness in others only deepens your depression because it reminds you of what you now believe will never be yours. To you I say that whoever has Christ lacks nothing; and he who has the whole world but has not Christ, has nothing.

Some of you are torn apart by a promiscuous lifestyle; perhaps this takes the form of impurity with yourself, pornography, fornication, contraception, adultery, homosexuality, or any number of the behaviors that detract from the beauty for which God created you.  To you I say that this most amazing and powerful physical faculty, your sexuality by which you are granted the unfathomable privilege of being able to participate in God’s creative act, has the potential to enrich your life or destroy your life.  If used in accord with its design; in a lifelong holy marriage, it will fulfill you.  If used against its design; in anyway separated from its power to procreate and unify husband and wife, then it can do nothing else but utterly destroy you.

Some of you, in seeking the spiritual leadership that is so lacking today, have turned to guides that cannot give that for which you truly yearn; whether it is Oprah Winfrey, Deepok Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, or any other modern leader who claims access to supernatural or life-fulfilling truths outside of God’s revelation of  Himself to us in Christ.  To you I say that the rays of truth that these people provide in order to draw you in inoculate you to the misleading error mixed in with it, and that any good you may perceive in your life as a result of their leadership is nothing but a fleeting wisp of pleasure compared to the infinite ocean of mercy and joy to which you have access in Christ.

Some of you suffer from wounds so deep that you cannot bring yourself to anything but despair; perhaps a divorce, an abortion, an abuse, a lost loved one, or an offense committed against you that you cannot bring yourself to forgive.  To you I say that for those who love God, any and all bad things in their lives are permitted to occur only because God is going to use them to bring about a greater good than they could imagine.  You need only flee to His mercy and eagerly await with great joy the day that God has ordained for your vindication.

Some of you have fallen victim to a pseudo-intellectualization of reality that only sows confusion, error, and ultimately desperation in your mind; perhaps you turn to pop psychology, evolutionism, the re-writing of historical events (Dan Brown, etc.), postmodernism, reductionism, Freudianism, Feminism,  Subjectivism, Skepticism, Agnosticism, or any field of study that proposes either to provide the answers that only True Religion can give, or to reject the answers that True Religion does give.  To you I say that the time will soon come when the self contradictions in these philosophies become so evident that it will be as if the stool on which you now comfortably sit and live your days has been yanked out from underneath you.  When that time comes, I beseech you to find that solid foundation of the only One who is Himself the Truth; Jesus Christ.

Some of you have grown so moored to an only half alive existence that you have forgotten there is so much more outside your now draining daily grind; maybe it was detrimental relationships, legal pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, alcohol, sports, hobbies, stocks, TV Dramas, sitcoms, cars, golf, politics, or any number of the endeavors that draw away the zeal and interest that belongs alone to heavenly things.  To you I say that you ought not wait for the inevitability of old age to reveal to you the frivolity of these pursuits, and their inability to give you meaning or satisfy your soul.  Turn your focus now to the One who created you and to Whom you draw closer, by your approaching death, every minute of the day; He is not only your beginning and your end, but the only One Who even now can give you happiness.

Some of you choose to disbelieve in God; perhaps because you see Him as incompatible with science, as an outdated myth on par with ancient pagan “gods,” or simply as an unneeded concept that has caused more harm than good.  To you I say that your senses and intellect are each day flooded with irrefutable and absolute evidence of His existence, and He is patiently awaiting the day when you,  his beloved child, will finally choose to see Him; especially His presence in your brothers and sisters.

Some of you, in seeing how low modern society has sunk, have reverted to ancient errors; whether paganism, bhuddism, hinduism (and Karma thought), Gnosticism, Stoicism, or anything of the sort.  To you I say that what failed to produce their desired effect in ages past will especially fail to do so now that they stand in contrast to God Himself having taken on flesh for our worship and given us a Church as our mother.

Some of you, in fearing what true devotion might do to your life, have chosen milquetoast religion; perhaps at the encouragement of “health and wealth gospel” preachers, a “progressive” Church, or your own personal interpretation of Scripture; this is the religion that denies the reality of Heaven & Hell, the full Divinity of Christ, the inerrant Truth of the Bible, the necessity of a deep prayer life;  or religion that encourages illicit behaviors like contraception, promiscuity, homosexuality, and divorce.  To you I say that this deprives you of the grace and joy that an uncompromising submission to the Truth provides, and you must free yourself of these shackles that, even though masquerading as wings, serve only to bind you.  You have the key to these shackles– that ever relevant, infinitely potent, never bland Holy Gospel — use it.

Some of you, in seeking greater meaning than the modern reductionistic world provides, have turned to the New Age Movement; and try to find the fulfillment that only Christ can give through yoga, astrology, veganism, reincarnation theories, “energy” or vitalistic healing methods, channeling, fortune telling, pseudoscience, pantheism, “A Course in Miracles,” the “Law of Attraction”, occultism, divination, magic, witchcraft, or the like. To you I say that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and although you are right in seeking more than what the materialists posit, you forget that there are also evil spirits (who love to appear as angels of light to deceive us), and only the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ can protect you from them, and only obedience to His authority and commands can prevent us from straying into dangerous, soul destroying spiritual pursuits.

There is one answer to all these problems: Jesus Christ.  And there is one superior path that leads to Him far above all others (for it is that same path by which God chose to first give Him to us): His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. You may find yourself among one or several of these groups to whom I here speak. No matter.  She is still your mother, and she is the one to whom you must flee. She will show you the Divine Mercy of her Divine Son.

She is so easy to come to.  Gaze with veneration upon this image.  Turn your heart to hers.  Fly to her patronage-

Of course, it is not only through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we ought to flee to the Divine Mercy!  We should also directly address our loving God in each of His three persons; the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

It seems that few Catholics have really understood (or are even aware of) this awesome privilege.  The Plenary Indulgence: by obtaining one, a practicing Catholic is blessed with the ability to easily receive, each and every day, the complete remission of all temporal punishment (in other words, purgatory “time”) due to all of his sins (and to offer this up for the souls in Purgatory)!

Of course, let us not become scrupulous, superstitious, or legalistic.  These indulgences have nothing to do with eternal salvation itself, and indeed depend upon a genuine disposition of heart.  Nevertheless, let us be grateful sons and daughters of the Church by reacting with joy and zeal to this astounding gift.  Let us all strive to receive, every day, this unfathomable blessing.

To receive a Plenary Indulgence, one must 1) Perform the Indulgenced act, 2) Go to Confession (applies to “several” Plenary Indulgences), 3) Receive Communion (applies to one Plenary Indulgence), 4) Pray for the intentions of the Pope, and 5) Be detached from all sin.

Simplest Plenary Indulgenced Acts that can be obtained any and every day:

  • Praying the Rosary (5 decades) either
    • In a Church (or a public oratory – for example, a chapel at a hospital, prison, seminary, etc.)
    • With a religious Community
    • With a pious Association of the Faithful, or
      • Canon 299 permits “private Associations of the Faithful” merely by agreement among members, needing no ecclesial knowledge or approval. It is uncertain whether these qualify as “pious Associations,” under the terminology in the Enchiridion on Indulgences, but it appears that they do indeed qualify. (Meaning, for example, your local pro-life association’s communal Rosary outside Planned Parenthood would suffice for a Plenary Indulgence.)
    • in a family group
    • This prayer must involve pious meditation on the corresponding mysteries.
  • Reading Sacred Scripture for 30 minutes
  • Praying the Stations of the Cross
    • Must involve physically moving from station to station (unless you are in a group and only the leader is doing that since for all to do so would be disorderly) and at least meditating on each station.
    • The stations must be legitimately erected – 14 crosses with 14 pictures or images (e.g. statues). Some argue that “legitimately erected” means blessed by the Bishop; i.e. in an official Church, which of course would make an informally erected stations in your yard not count.
  • Adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for at least 30 minutes
    • Find a Perpetual Adoration Chapel near you
    • It does not appear that the Blessed Sacrament must be exposed in the monstrance, but rather it seems that even if it is reposed in the tabernacle, this will still suffice for a plenary indulgence.

The Requirements:

A State of Grace

If you have made a good confession, and since then have not returned to mortal sin, you are in a state of grace.  To this end, please examine your conscience.

Prayers for the Pope

We must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary (and, usually also one Glory Be is said) and before doing so, announce “For the intentions of our Holy Father Pope ______…”

Communion

Receiving Holy Communion once suffices for one and only one Plenary Indulgence.  Attending daily Mass then, of course, is ordinarily (i.e. excepting the sick who have Communion brought to them daily) required for obtaining the daily plenary indulgence.

Confession

One confession can apply to “several” Plenary Indulgences.

I do not know, nor can I find anyone who knows for certain, if there is a specific number attached to the word “several.” But in the year 2000, the Apostolic Penitentiary described “several” in the context of how many days before or after the indulgenced act one may receive sacramental confession; and the verdict was twenty. Therefore it seems most logical to interpret the same word as the same number here, and ensure that we go to confession at least once every twenty days, as this will ensure that we have accumulated no more than twenty plenary indulgenced acts seeking the benefit of one confession.

[Update 10/7/2019: I have heard from several authoritative voices on this matter that one Confession actually can apply to a whole month’s worth of indulgences and that one is thereby fully disposed to receive a plenary indulgence every day so long as he goes to Confession at least once a month.]

Detachment from all Sin

Needless to say, this is the hardest requirement; yet you need not actually have arrived at a life free from all committed venial sins to satisfy it!  Plenary Indulgences are not reserved for those few perfected saints with which each age is blessed. Rather, you must not be content with any of your sins (even venial); you must not intend to commit them again; you must not have formally incorporated them into your life’s daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routine; thereby implicitly carrying in your heart the intention to continue in them.  You must strive to, and be willing to, give up each and every one of them, and earnestly beseech almighty God for the grace to do this.  You must not obstinately refuse to avoid occasions of sin that you are perfectly capable of avoiding.

Therefore I recommend reading a thorough Examination of Conscience, and being honest with yourself as you examine your life and ponder what sins you may be in the habit of committing.

I recommend one more step. Immediately after receiving Communion (during those 15 minutes where His physical presence remains inside you), make an Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin.

Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin

Eternal Father; in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His most Precious Blood, poured out from His most Sacred Heart, and now physically coursing through my very own veins,

and begging the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the angels and saints; especially St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, my guardian angel and patron saint,

I hereby renounce, rebuke, and forever cast aside any and all attachment to sin; mortal and venial. I earnestly desire and intend to never once again offend you by the smallest violation of Your law.

I truly intend to never again, either in thought, word, or deed, commit even the slightest exhibition of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride; and not only that, but to replace them with prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and love.

I am heartily sorry for having ever offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, not so much because of Thy just punishments; but because I have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love.  I love Thee above all things, and I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. I firmly believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed it, and I hope to obtain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ, My Lord and Redeemer.

Other Points:

  • The indulgence attached to a prayer may also be gained by following the prayer mentally as somebody else recites it out loud.
  • Even if a plenary indulgence is carried out in such a way as to not have each requirement fully met, you will still usually at least gain a partial indulgence for your efforts.
  • Only one plenary indulgence can be received each day, and may also be offered up for a soul in purgatory
  • To gain an indulgence for oneself, one must have at least “a general intention to gain them…” Manual on Indulgences N17.2 (Meaning the requirements themselves, even if undertaken, may not result in the granting of the indulgence if the person undertaking them has no idea what an indulgence is and has no intention to receive one.  This is why it is so important to spread knowledge about indulgences.)

Links:

Ponder, dear brethren, how eagerly we can await our death, being in a State of Grace and obtaining each day a plenary indulgence! Our Lord does not desire that we go to Purgatory, and through the Church He gives us the means to avoid that place where, though temporary, nonetheless pains exceed all those of this life. Let us not neglect this great grace so that we may, as we ought, rejoice at the near approach of death! And let us take this opportunity to free countless souls from Purgatory!

Holy Images Crusade

Holy Images Crusade

Two images; unlike any other.  One, drawn by the Hand of God; the other, drawn in direct obedience to His command, so that “whosoever venerates it may not perish.”

 As we are now left with only a few grains of sand left in the hourglass of the Time of Mercy, it is time to flood our corrupt generation with these two images.

 Over the years I have developed unique methods of getting them out; here I provide a structure for anybody who would like to do what I have done.  I encourage you to do so and to send a link of this post to others, that they too may follow suit.

 Let this indeed be a Crusade; one of far greater importance even than the Crusade waged in centuries past to protect Christendom from Islamic takeover.  For in this Crusade we battle not merely against flesh and blood, but against the Prince of this World as he prepares for his ultimate battle against the Church.  We battle not merely an external enemy, but one who has insidiously injected himself into almost every aspect of modern culture.

For examples of how I have put these to use, see:
  • The rear view of my car.  (I do a lot of driving, and go under 60 mph on the highway to save gas – which means tons of people are always passing me – so this is an excellent means of evangelization)
  • The backside of my old business card
  • My banner for outside abortion mills, at rallies, at protests, etc. (Carefully crafted slogans are good, too… but none so powerful as bringing this image to an event)

1. Digital Files

 Divine Mercy Image:

Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Both, combined and sized to fit perfectly on a business card, with a few essential images added inbetween.

2. Printout Options

(If you have a good color printer of your own, give that a try first – but be warned, these will use much ink)
  • FedEx Office Print Online
    • This is the ideal option if you would like a sturdy, laminated letter-sized printout for outdoor use (especially for tacking onto the back of your car)
    • You will want the files in document format to use their printing service, so here they are: Guadalupe, Divine Mercy.  (Or PDF Format: Guadalupe, Divine Mercy)
      • After uploading the documents, choose “Set my own print options,” and when you do so, be sure to select “Ultra Bright White” cardstock, color, and “Lamination with 1/4″ border”
      • The cost winds up being $3 and change for each cardstock, laminated, vibrant color full-page printout.
  • SnapFish
    • I have already uploaded the files onto my Snapfish account, and am able to share these automatically with you, so that you can order them through your account, with this link.
    • Be sure to select the 8″x10″ option.  These cost $2.99.  Good for indoor uses, like hanging on a wall.
  • UPrinting.com (Update 4/2/2014: I have no idea why, but Google flagged my links to UPrinting.com, and I have had to remove them)
    • Perfect for business card sized printouts like this.
      • Using that design, you may either save money by doing only one sided printing, or you can add whatever message or image you would like on the back
      • You may also choose to do a two sided image printout; Divine Mercy being on one side and Guadalupe being on the other
    • Also good for posters, stickers, or sturdy poster-signs.

I would also like to add note of a third essential image; the Sacred Heart image, for Jesus promised to bless any home in which it is prominently displayed and honored.

***

This website is also wonderful for the Divine Mercy Image.

Various Recommended Applications:

  • Bumper Stickers
    • Must be laminated and mounted with clear packaging tape (or simply specifically have them printed as bumper stickers/car magnets)
  • Hanging Wall Pictures
    • You need not wait until you can afford expensive, framed pictures to decorate your home, office, etc. with holy images – do so right now with a quality cardstock printout and a push-pin or tape.
  • Posters/Fliers
    • For public areas, bulletin boards, etc.
  • Shirts
    • Have the shirt printed for you using an online service, or iron on the image yourself
  • Billboards
    • If you can spare the money, you will be doing enormous good by creating such exposure with a billboard
  • General Stickers
  • Handouts
  • Business Cards
    • Keep a bunch on you and hand them out freely.
  • Lawn Signs
    • Why not edify everyone who walks or drives past your house?
  • Clothing pins

Please feel free to comment with any other suggestions! I will keep updating this post as I continue to develop or come across more methods of promulgating these holy images!

“And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” -Luke 16:8

Does Mary Appear in the Night Sky this Feast of the Annunciation?

All the following is from my good friend and classmate Br. Joshua at Holy Apostles College & Seminary:

On March 25, 2012, millions of Christians (Catholic and Orthodox) will celebrate the “Annunciation” – which commemorates the conception of Jesus. This March 25, there will be a neat astronomical arrangement in the sky, that seems to mesh nicely. See the description below:
The sky will be spectacular in the west after sunset on March 25, 2012, with the waxing crescent moon and the planet Jupiter very close to each other in the evening twilight sky. Plus Venus is nearby – the sky’s brightest planet. You’ll see Jupiter and the moon below Venus in the west after sunset. The famous Pleiades star cluster is above Venus. 

For centuries Mary has been referred to as the “Morning Star”, the popular name of the Planet Venus. In this configuration, the Morning Star appears with the moon at her feet. The Pleiades (from “peleiades” the Greek word for doves) overshadows the Morning Star. Jupiter, the “King Planet” approaches the configuration.  The symbolism is striking. This is a interesting arrangement for the mystery of the Annunciation which heralds Christ’s coming through Mary.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35).
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman- clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1)
Image
**Please forgive me for the ads that were appearing here.  I was unaware of them, and just paid WordPress to have them removed, as I greatly dislike advertising.**

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:

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.

Mary: Queen and Commander of the Pro-Life Movement

(The following is a slightly modified email I sent on March 15, 2011 to some local pro-lifers in response to a conflict regarding how to approach Mary in a pro-life setting)

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Thank you Vivianne!

I think your key point is at the end.  There are two goals we can pursue here with 40 DfL.  One is ecumenism, and one is ending abortion.  40 Days for Life is about the latter, while ensuring openness to all denominations.  I know we all agree that is the guiding principle.  How exactly to achieve it, I am not sure.  What I am sure of is that discord as the result of such a discussion is of Satan, and whoever gives himself over to despair of unity because of such disagreements has lent an ear to the Father of Lies.
But I want to take that even further and tell you all about something that has been on my heart for some time now.  It is another pro-life strategy, and it seeks to be guided by God’s methods instead of man’s.  Some have pondered “What would Mary want here?”  But we need not guess at it.  She has told us.
(If you are one of those souls who has an automatic disdain or apathy for so-called “private” revelation, this email will be of little worth to you.  But know that you are rejecting the teachings of Christ’s Church, as this Church authoritatively teaches, in CCC 67, that the Sensus Fidelium is capable of discerning these revelations.)

I must preface this by pointing out that it seems I have been more persecuted recently by Catholics for doing Catholic things than I have been by non-Catholics.  I go evangelizing door-to-door and have been greeted with warmth even by Muslims who appreciate my care, while I am condemned by Catholics for my “proselytizing and pushiness.”  I pray something Marian at an event with non-Catholics and am complimented by Protestants for my Faith, while I am condemned by Catholics for “pushing what others think to be idolatry” .  I speak of the unprecedented urgency, depravity, and apocalyptic nature of our times (merely quoting claims in many approved apparitions) and I am thanked for pointing this out by even the lost sheep; the dissolute, the homeless, the sinners: protestants, Jews, and Muslims alike; while many Catholics chastise me saying “Stop being distracted, times have been bad before, everyone dies anyway, you’re being fanatical and people don’t like that.”  I speak of the errancy of Darwinism and the fact of Adam and Eve, and Catholics roll their eyes at me, explicitly or implicitly saying that I ought to be more concerned about potentially offending modern scientists than offending God; while the uneducated youth on the streets are happy to hear me proclaim the fact that even they know to be obvious: we are not the mere descendants of apes. 

I am not seeking sympathy! I say these things only to point out that the great tragedy of today is not the persecution we receive from without, but the wretched tepidity and lukewarmness from within the walls of our own Catholic Church.  We are like a knight in full armor cowering in a corner afraid to engage a small rabid animal. Our disastrously weak faith is demonstrated by our hesitation to proclaim the full Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth) to all.  Human wisdom says water down truth so it is less offensive.  Divine wisdom says “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:23) Divine wisdom proclaims Truth in all its beauty and majesty and splendor, and permits those who cannot accept it to walk away (John 6:66). 

One woman I spoke to while going door-to-door was once a Protestant and told me about how she converted to Catholicism because when she had a daughter, she wanted to raise her in a faith with more ritual.  Thanks be to God she did not run into a modern Catholic who uses that pathetic “lowest common denominator” strategy, tip-toeing timidly around and making sure to pretend we are really not much different!  This woman had fallen away from the practice of the Faith for quite some time, and said it was a sign from God that we showed up at her door when she did, and told us she would get back to Church.

To the point: I am striving to take my orders from Heaven.  Heaven speaks through the Magisterium, yes, but Heaven also speaks directly.  Our mother, who is the mother of all, the greatest creature who will ever exist, and the Queen of all Creation, has been perfectly clear that SHE is the one in charge of our current apocalyptic struggle.  Christ has saved her for these times, and she is our commander.

The strategy I suggest seeks to place itself completely under the mantle of Mary.  “So it is a Catholic campaign, then” you may say to me.  It is not!  It is far more inclusive than even those on the “inclusive” side of this debate wish to  position themselves.  It is welcoming of all true believers, for it seeks to hurl at Satan, as one massive attack, all those prayers that God hears (and these are not only not limited to Catholics’ prayers but are also not limited to Christians’ prayers); prayers directed against a common enemy.  What great allies against the Culture of Death I have met among non-Christians: Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, and those who believe but are still seeking a Church!  Why should we neglect to unite their prayers with ours?  If you ask someone “do you believe in God?” and his response is an unqualified “yes” (not “yes, but…” or “yes, as a…”), and he recognizes the same enemy we recognize, then his prayers ought to be united with ours, through Mary.

She has made it clear that under her mantle Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims are to unite against Satan.  Do not accuse me of religious indifferentism!  Daily I hope and pray and work so that all may become Catholic, where alone abides the fullness of Truth.  But there is no time to wait for that to happen.  Only the most arrogant of souls could claim that God does not hear the prayers of any non-Christians.  So if we are to exceed the walls of our own Catholic Church, let us not arbitrarily limit ourselves to non-Catholic Christians. 

To Catholics Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace; the Mother of God and the Queen of the Universe.  to Protestants she is the mother of Jesus, the one whose pleas initiated His first miracle, and one of the few who accompanied Him on Calvary. She is greatly revered by Mormons as well. To Muslims she is the most regarded woman in their holy book, the fairest woman in heaven, and as a virgin gave birth to the one who is to judge the world at the end of time; one of her greatest apparitions, Fatima, carries the name of one of Mohammad’s daughters, and in Cairo in the 1960s she appeared to millions, including Muslims who greatly revered her .  To Jews, she was the perfect Jew, keeping the law like no other, having every admirable trait that a Jew ought to have; we also know she is spoken of in their own scriptures.  To all others, she is the most beautiful woman in existence, the worker of the greatest wonders the world has ever seen; from Lourdes to Fatima to Cairo to Medjugorje, the object of more Holy Pilgrimages than anything.  She is at least nominally revered by the millions who wear her weapon, the Rosary, as jewelery around their necks.    Souls of all races and colors and creeds flock to her apparition sites; her maternal love is simply irresistible to all but those with hearts of stone, for “if anyone should glory in having God for his Father and yet has not the love of a true child for Mary, he is a deceiver, and the only father he has is the devil” – St. Louis de Montfort

Abandon your fears, your concerns, and your hesitations!  Our own devices will not bring about the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart that she promised us.  She will; through our response to her call.    She has told us we are to pray together; not just Protestants and Catholics but all believers.  She has told us that the Rosary is not just for Catholics.  Reject her orders at your own peril, devout soul!  Fear Judgment Day as well, as we all ought, but consider that the rejection of a mother’s love may be more detestable to Him on That Day than all the sins against purity and temperance in the world. 

How exactly to go about with such a strategy?  I certainly have not worked out all the details, though I will continue to think and pray about this.

Remember also, devout Catholic, that outside those very few truly faithful, obedient, orthodox Catholics; we do not have any complete allies in this fight.  Even the more conservative Protestant Churches have neglected to condemn contraception, which is at the heart of this Culture of Death- so you will be doing no good in reciting to me a list of evils contained in Islam, Mormonism, etc. (even though I may agree with you)- because I will respond to you with that fact.

I am not asking you to turn this current campaign into what I suggest.  Not only would I have no right to do that, but I recognize it would be imprudent at this point.  But for the future, I feel confident that this method I describe is God’s Will, or at least a significant part of His plan.

Unlike Vivianne I have not yet taken this to expert opinions and spiritual direction.  As always I submit this to those who are more qualified and learned than myself.  But I hope you can see the wisdom in this approach, because this wisdom did not come from me; I do believe God put it in my heart.  It is not the type of approach I would come up with on my own.  And trust me, I resisted it for a long time.  I am not saying it is the only valid approach to the exclusion of an explicitly Catholic one or an explicitly Christian one, but I do think it may very well be the best one.

I anticipate there will be holier and better Catholics than myself who will disagree with me here; and I just ask that before responding  they first pause and prayerfully consider what I suggest, because I will take their input very seriously.  Consider that it is not my own ponderings, but striving after obedience to Heaven’s guidance that makes me say this.    Consider that our allies in this battle are not limited to Christians. 

 Consider that Mary clearly is the means by which God has chosen to bring about the renewal of faith that we so direly need. Consider what she HAS done and what therefore she can and will do.  Consider that she is the woman spoken of in both Genesis and Revelation, and only by God’s grace, through Mary, do we have any hope in this age. When God sought to put an end to this continent’s Culture of Death almost 500 years ago, He did not do it through man’s carefully strategized efforts.  He did it through an apparition of His mother, as you all know, Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It will not be different this time!


In Christ, Through Mary,
Dan

Save The World

I’ve always wanted to save the world; to solve all of its problems with my effort. I have always hated to see people suffer, or to see them not living as full a life as they ought.

Since a very young age the most logical method of doing this seemed to me to be theoretical physics.  It is indeed the most fundamental science.  Stretching from the tiniest particles to the largest expanses of the universe, it seeks to consolidate all things into one general unified theory, always striving after “the secret of the universe.”  Before I had become a teenager I was delving into this field of study.  Finding this secret; unlocking the key to the physical universe would certainly save the world, would it not?

Well, in High School I realized I was not going to achieve my goals in this area.  So I became a little more practical.  I turned my efforts towards engineering and inventing.  Surely if I could only discover an abundant energy source, an easier means of transportation, and better construction methods, all of the world’s problems would be solved. To this end I pursued my degree in Mechanical Engineering from RPI, and poured thousands of hours into researching, designing, prototyping, and applying for patents on inventions I had conceived. I worked for GE Energy and GE Global Research.  I took classes in entrepreneurship and inventing.

This combined with my theory that right legislation would save the world.  I educated myself in every political hot-topic and spent countless hours racking up thousands of posts on internet forums debating them. I campaigned for causes and for politicians and became involved in every controversial happening I could find.  With the right machines and the right laws to encourage them and enable them, we would surely see victory!

Late in college I realized I would not be successful in these strategies, either. But something else happened around these years; my Catholic awakening.  I was leading a typical life of promiscuity, debauchery, intemperance, apathy, and the like until then.  Toward the beginning of freshman year I saw these sins tearing me apart and finally vowed to radically change my life forever.  NOW I had really found out how to save the world.  I would take these lessons I had learned; these lessons of sexual purity and faith in God, and save the world by letting everyone in on it.  I started apostolates and clubs, wrote articles, gave talks, made YouTube videos, and talked to my friends about these pressing issues.

As I was graduating college, I realized that these arguments, also, would not save the world.  But now I am onto the next step in my efforts to save the world.  And that is to realize that I cannot save the world.  I cannot, but Jesus and His mother can.  I now realize that God does have the solution; one overlooked even by most Christian and Catholic apologists, and certainly overlooked by the so-called movers and shakers of this world.  He gave us a solution, and we ignore it at our own peril.  The solution is His mother, that woman whom Satan fears even more than God.  That woman who we infallibly know will crush the serpent’s head.  Mary Immaculate, the pinnacle of all creation.  The Queen of the Universe. The Mother of God. Our mother.

How did I not know this earlier? Well, I grew up in modern Catholicism.  You could describe it in many other terms; protestant Catholicism, professional Catholicism, worldly Catholicism, cultural Catholicism, feel-good Catholicism, effeminate Catholicism. It is the type of Catholicism that appeases everybody, pleases everybody, sedates everybody, and saves nobody.  In 20 years of going to Church most Sundays, I never heard of an apparition, the rosary, the scapular, the need for confession, or even the existence of daily Mass. I probably passively believed that God ceased speaking to man after Jesus ascended.

But now I know that God has not left us as orphans.  He has sent us His mother.  It is due time that we cease placing trust in the world and turn to her.  She will lead us to the mercy of her Son, but there are only a few grains left in the hourglass for the Time of Mercy.

I do not reject any of my former methods.  I certainly still spend much time arguing for virtue; for purity, for faith.  I still tinker with inventing, and even sometimes find myself pondering abstract physics.  But I thank God that I never discovered that secret to the universe, and never invented that boundless and cheap energy production machine.  Perhaps, if I did, I would never have reached the point where I am now.  The point where I am truly saving the world, because I pray the Rosary every day.

The Point of Purity

(This article was first published in July 2008)

Lust is the most widely unopposed sin of the day. It is evident everywhere; shelves are stocked with magazines aimed at inspiring it, non-marital relationships usually involve intercourse, sexual self-gratification is expected, and impure thoughts have become a bragging point.

 

The reason is simple. Temptation wins in the absence of strong conviction to do battle with it. Conviction is withering away today. Comfort, pleasure, and immediate gratification are considered of greater meaning than eternal principles, and the temptation that lust casts upon us is relentless and powerful. Aside from the wisdom of our ancestors and the commandments of God, which are deplorably mocked and disregarded; there is solid reason upholding why refrain from lust and its expressions is absolutely necessary for everyone.

 

Premarital sex has become so accepted that a proposal to avoid it will now invoke laughter in most. People who prefer this sad, degraded moral common ground seem to act as if society has always been this way, if not outwardly then privately, but truly the prevalence of such promiscuity is only a recent trend. Those who came before us understood its perils, which result not only from casual encounters but also relations between serious, yet unwed, couples. The latter situation is flat-out expected; serious couples who save themselves for marriage are considered senseless, but that choice will lead them to incomparably happier lives. The decision to spend the rest of one’s life with another must occur before this pair engages in intercourse, so a proper judgment can be made. Such intimacy is designed for, and regardless of your views on purpose, is confirmedly adept at bonding man and woman. When applied before marriage, this bonding power acts only to cloud judgment and put in place an enslaving fear of ending an inadequate relationship, causing it to drag on and devour valuable months or years. If the relationship does end, the deprivation from that bond causes a type of sadness that no man should ever have to feel; it is a sadness that frequently accounts for depression and motivates suicide, the rate of which is unsurprisingly astronomical these past few decades,  and one that stems from giving oneself entirely to another, only to have that gift cast aside, along with a serious part of the soul. When this crippling sadness fades, all that is left is the knowledge that your love was all for naught, with the only outcomes being lost time and lessened bonding power of intimacy for future relationships. That same enslaving fear could also be the grounds for a marriage that either ends in divorce or continues with unhappiness for the duration of the couple’s lives, or at least far less happiness than could have been obtained if the spouses were instead inspired to seek a better match. This is not to say that all married couples who engaged in premarital relations are unhappy, but it is so for an astonishing number, and guarding against such a rampant affliction should be a top priority in everyone’s life.

 

Casual sexual encounters have that same effect of lessening the bonding power of intimacy for future relationships, but take it to an extreme level. When a man shares his bed with one for whom he has no strong and developed feelings, he is showing utter disrespect for himself and his bedmate. He is tearing up his prospects of ever benefiting from intimacy and tossing them into a fire, for he has removed intimacy entirely from the realm of meaning and placed it into the realm of fleeting biological gratification. Like a drug user, he becomes resistant to the pleasures he pursues, except instead of the body being affected, it is the soul.

 

Adultery is one form of promiscuity that thankfully is still frowned upon. Its prominence is caused primarily by insufficient willpower to resist and, despite a general agreement in its negative effects, an inadequate sense of true conviction opposing it. This may be a consequence of the complete lack of opposition to the other forms of promiscuity, and as evil begets evil, degradation of conviction in one area leads to the same in the others that are related. Triumph is only attainable when the door latched shut to vice, instead of leaving it ajar and hoping only some will enter.

 

In resisting lust, so many people, despite being principled in many areas, fail to firmly shut this door by inviting sexual self-gratification into their lives. Even many of today’s Christian Churches do not oppose the practice. The reasons to eliminate masturbation may be the least obvious of all the transgressions from lust, but they are neither weak nor scarce. Masturbation has the opposite effect that many theorize it has. It is not a form of releasing built up tension; it is nothing but a means to temporarily appease your passions and thereby empower the propagation of temptation. As rewarding a child with candy in response to every tantrum serves only to reinforce future tantrums, so responding to temptation with masturbation will only cause you to crave more, while promoting your body to master and demoting your being to slave. Freedom can only be realized with utter refusal to satisfy any of the demands that lust solicits, and despite its differences from sexual encounters with others, masturbation is simply another way to satisfy lust instead of combat it. Complete refusal of self-gratification will grant you far greater focus, for when you know there is no possibility of committing this act, your subconscious will cease nagging you to give in. Greater willpower for employment in any pursuit also comes into the possession of whoever accepts complete refusal. Banishing from your life a pleasure that has been so depended on is a great achievement that, as with all struggles, paves the path for more achievement. The common saying “95% of people masturbate and the other 5% of people lie” illustrates the plague of weakness and surrender filling the minds of men. The subservience to their bodies of those who share this view has been developed to such a degree that they refuse to consider that people even exist who are not under such a spell. Do not believe in such discouragements; it truly is both realistic and vital for everyone to rid their lives of this habit.

 

This all is by no means an exhaustive summary of the malice of lust; far reaching are its effects and its expressions are not limited to what has been mentioned here.  Know too that one need not go as far as intercourse with another to suffer greatly; lesser expressions of lust bring the same effects, whether or not to a similarly lesser extent.  Understand there is no safety in numbers here; God does not grade on a curve.  Today, being merely acceptable means appearing exceptional next to the norm, and even appearing just good here may not be enough. 

 

 

Notice there has not yet been any mention of the risk of disease; that is because such an affliction is a fleabite compared to the decay of the soul that is at stake. Some say that as the number of their bedmates went up, the sadness from each relationship ending went down.  Despite appearing like a good way out of the horror of promiscuity; this consists of nothing but one digging his own grave so deep that the very smell of fresh air escapes his memory, and he becomes accustomed to the stench below.  This only means that the worst has happened: sexuality has lost its ability to bind him.  His hunger still prevails, but he can no longer gain nourishment from the food.  He has descended to the realm of mindless animals who wander the earth abiding only by hormones, and the human heart residing here knows nothing but torment.

 

But hope is not lost for those who have followed these ways. Though this makes Purity more difficult than for those who have always chosen it, in surmounting the challenge true joy can be found. God can give you a chance to start anew; with His help no burden is too large to bear .  Let Him guide you towards the life given to those who reject lust; for obtaining the benefits of its absence are even more persuasive than avoiding the downfalls of its presence. 

We know when we see someone free from the chains of lust.  For him, life is truly an adventure as opposed to a weak attempt to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. His happiness is based on principles that no event will ever darken.  He is impervious to the traps that ensnare the hedonists and even those who remain moderate in this sin, for he has chosen to elevate himself to a level of meaning that is completely independent of such triviality.  His time is spent living in the deepest sense of the word.  Without the distraction of lust, he is able to pursue his true purpose.  Without the parasite of lust, he is able to give his whole heart to his cause.  Without the agony, dominance, and deceit of lust; he puts today’s permissive, purposeless, and feeble culture to shame.  Defeating lust is only one step, but it is a large step, and one that cannot be skipped.  The deepest part of every man’s heart yearns for this great existence more desperately and persistently than any other desire he knows.  This understanding can be most real at the close of reading a great novel or watching a powerful movie, but is sadly often gone by the time the next temptation knocks. Do not let such decisions tear you away from the life you crave and need.  Take heed of that which your immortal soul knows is right and cast aside that for which your mortal flesh begs.  One side must be taken.