Saturday, August 27, 2016

Original Sin is to Blame, Not God

I was perusing the Daily Mail to see photos of the aftermath of the terrible earthquake in Italy when I made the mistake of reading the comments section underneath the article; if anyone wants to lose hope in mankind, I suggest reading the comments under any news article. In the comments, nestled amongst ones blaming the quake on a super-weapon developed by the United States, I saw a comment that is familiar to our ears whenever anything terrible happens: "thanks a lot, god"

Of course, 'god' has to be lowercase, which signifies the writer either as an atheist or severely uneducated (since the sentence began with a lowercase letter, as well). But it's a true sentiment of many people when something overwhelmingly terrible happens - we blame God. Many of us have our faith shaken, because we know God to be loving and we cannot explain how such a loving God could allow things like natural disasters, sexual abuse, and torture to happen - especially to those who love him. We hear all the time that nothing happens unless God permits it to happen, so to the unbeliever, that's all the more reason to hate God, for that means he permits predators to rape children and for natural disasters to destroy the lives of millions. But is that really what is happening? Can we blame God for evil? Of course not.

For the Christian, the devil is responsible for evil; in his foolish rebellion against God, Satan and his angels in their pride have chosen to take on God, with us in between. With Christ's victory on the cross, Satan has lost the war - battles still rage, but the war is over. God has won, for he has given us a way out, a way to find sanctuary in his presence. But Satan, as prince of this world, remains in "power" a little while longer.

So evil continues to exist: pride, jealousy, murder, rape, abuse, slavery, pornography, abortion, natural disasters, war. This is the world under Satan. People blame God because they either cannot believe that he wouldn't stop these things from happening (they expect God to be an overbearing chess player with mankind as pawns), or they blame him for being powerless (that God is distant, uncaring, or doesn't exist).

But we have only ourselves to blame. Through the actions of our first parents, sin and death entered the world: "Cursed is the ground because of you...In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen 3:17, 19). And mankind has been demented ever since, committing unspeakable acts up to this very day and beyond. We were created in perfect unity with God and one another, but all of that was destroyed when we chose evil over good, when we chose Satan's will over God's will. "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now..." (Rom 8:19-22). We can see here in the writings of St. Paul that due to our sin, Creation has been groaning, subjected to futility (think of our buildings constantly destroyed by natural disasters or our crops destroyed by drought or floods), and that Creation is in bondage to decay.

WE did this. WE caused this. All of this is a result of our sinful actions. This is the world - the universe - without God, in a sense. This is a foretaste of life apart of him, a warning of the world to come if we die outside of his friendship. We think we can get along fine without God - look around to the evils of the world and see a world created in the image of fallen man; even Creation groans and decays because of us; the fact that we can even experience climate change is due to the fact that we're fallen and in need of God's restoration. Natural disasters and the evil actions of others are our daily reminders that we're not in charge, that a world we try to build without God is a world of futility, and that it is to the NEXT world which we are to look, not this world. All too often, we think of making this world our utopia, but it's the next world - the restored Creation - that will give us everything we could ever hope for. That's not to say that we shouldn't try to make this world a better place; after all, how would we evangelize to others about the goodness of God if we accepted the evil of this world? But we should always remember that this world is passing away and that any evil we see is caused by the man in the mirror, thanks to our first parents when they chose to listen to Satan over God; the only way to combat this is to listen to the New Adam (Jesus) and the New Eve (Mary) and hope for the new Creation that is to come: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away...And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:1, 5).

The Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From CatholicCulture.org:

The Franciscan Crown Rosary, properly known as "The Franciscan Crown of Our Lady's Joys" dates back to approximately the year 1422. According to tradition, as related by the famous Franciscan historian Father Luke Wadding, a very pious young man who had been admitted to the Franciscan Order in that year was saddened and had decided to return to the world and quit the cloister. Before his entry into the Order, it was his custom to adorn a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a wreath of fresh and beautiful flowers. Now, he was unable to continue his act of piety and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Our Lady appeared to him and prevented him from taking such a step as he had planned. "Do not be sad and cast down, my son," she said, "because you are no longer permitted to place wreaths of flowers on my statue. I shall teach you to change this pious practice into one that will be far more pleasing to me and more meritorious to your soul. In place of the flowers that soon wither and cannot always be found, you can weave for me a crown from the flowers of your prayers that will always remain fresh and can always be had." When Our Lady had disappeared, the overjoyed Novice at once began to recite the prayers in honor of her Seven Joys, as she had directed. While he was deeply engrossed in this devotion, the Novice Master happened to pass by and saw an angel weaving a marvelous wreath of roses. After every tenth rose, he inserted a golden lily. When the wreath was finished, the angel placed it on the head of the praying Novice. The Novice Master demanded the Novice tell him the meaning of this vision. The joyful Novice complied. The good priest was so impressed that he immediately made it known to his brethren. Thus, the practice of reciting the Franciscan Crown of Our Lady's Joys soon spread as a favorite devotion of the Friars.

The Joys of Mary remembered in the devotion are these:

The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary
The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
The Nativity of Our Lord
The Adoration of the Magi
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The Resurrection of Our Lord
and The Crowning of Our Lady, Mary, in Heaven as Queen

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Bartholomew, Pray for Christian Unity

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
-- John 13:35

Quite often an event in history occurs in which we look back and shudder over the actions of others; today is one such day. On the eve of today, St. Bartholomew's feast day, a massacre began in France between French Catholics and French Calvinists. All too often, we like to blame religion for many of the problems that occurred between Catholics and Protestants, but the truth is that most of the time, any mistrust or antagonism between Catholics and Protestants was flamed into an inferno by selfish, power-hungry political leaders; this is one of those many cases.

Calvinists in the heyday of the Reformation had no qualms about "cleansing" churches of what they saw were idols: smashing statues, destroying icons, breaking stained glass windows, dismantling pipe organs. City after city was being "cleansed" in this way and as the movement came to France, Catholics were rightly concerned. However, the Queen - Catherine d'Medici - also saw this as a possible challenge to her power, since a lot of this "reforming" was done with the blessing of local rulers in exchange for gaining wealth and property from seized Church and monastery property. Now a crowd of Calvinists, many of them noblemen, were coming to Paris to celebrate a royal wedding between a Catholic princess and a Catholic prince.

Catherine, fearing the power of Calvinist Admiral Coligny at the head of this crowd, tried to have him assassinated; it failed. Angered at this attempt on his life, his supporters promised 4,000 cavalry to ride into Paris in order to seize the Louvre (at this time, not a museum but a royal palace) and kill all who were involved in the assassination plot. Fearing for her life and her power, she and her underage son - the king - ordered the royal guards to attack the invading force. In their frenzy, they - and Catholic residents of Paris - butchered between 2,000 & 5,000 French Protestants, even women and children.

Propaganda circulates to this day that the Pope celebrated this massacre due to the fact that he ordered a Te Deum to be prayed in celebration of the Catholic victory, however it was the victory that was being celebrated, not the means to that end. Once the Pope learned of the details of what happened, he said, "I am weeping for the conduct of the king, which is unlawful and forbidden by God." Spanish ambassador Zuniga said the pope was "struck with horror" and wept for those murdered. When the ringleader of the Catholic mob, Maurevert, visited the Pope, he refused to see him. And yet, the pope was a man of his times, and still wrote a bull that celebrated the deaths of the Protestant leaders (but not the innocents caught in the middle).

It's all a scandal and un-Christian. It's a sad reminder that we've failed the Lord's prayer for our unity and that we love one another; instead of dying for each other, we've murdered each other. I'm deeply sorry for anything I've done in my life to keep our divisions going, and I'm horrified at the un-Christian conduct of Catholics and Protestants, which feeds atheism and the "Jesus without a church" movement making its way through some Christian circles. We've betrayed our Lord and on every St. Bartholomew's Day, may we pray for the souls of those who died, and take the opportunity to pray for our unity.

Our Lady, Health of the Sick

Our Lady Health of the Sick shrine is in the diocese of Michoacan, to the west of Mexico City. It was erected by the first bishop, the famous Vasco de Quiroga. The Indians of Michoacan, the Tarascans, were nomadic and impatient of all restraint.

The bishop, in whose hands the entire project of civilizing the people was placed, set up the means and paraphernalia of civilization: the Church, hospital, asylums, workshops and tools, and the framework of administration. He laid out a hundred towns in a planned economy. He took every precaution to assure equity and justice, and he worked to develop their love of one another as children of God. He taught them about their Holy Redeemer and about His blessed mother. He erected the shrine of Our Lady of Health, through whose intercession they were to strive for health of soul and health of body. Every advance they made in virtue, every effort toward decent habits of hygiene and sanitation they were to offer as flowers in a garland to La Purisima.

The statue which represented Our Lady of Health came from Europe. The Indians cherished it. They dressed it in elegant robes. They decorated it. They placed it in a chapel shrine. They duplicated it in the wood they carved out of trees. She became a favorite Madonna in western Mexico and northward into the United States. In many places throughout this great extent of territory she is still a favorite Madonna. In some places her title has changed: In Chihuahua, Mexico, she is Our Lady of Chihuahua; in New Mexico, she is Our Lady of Santa Fe. The name has changed but the devotion and the statue are the same.

Monday, August 22, 2016

America the Broken

I love my country, but I’m starting to get sick and tired of the hypocrisy in this land. First off, we have the largest incarcerated population in the world – more than in China – and with each passing day, there are more laws to take away our rights or tax the Middle Class into oblivion, so “the land of the free” we are not, at this time in our history. Secondly, the way Americans reacted when Gabby Douglas didn’t put her hand over her heart during the anthem, or the way we fawned over the pole vaulter stopping in mid-run to stand at attention for our anthem, is ridiculous – it is the heresy of Americanism at its best. We are the world’s leading distributor of pornography. Our mainstream movies are some of the most violent ever made. We force other countries to legalize abortion, contraception, euthanasia, homosexual “marriage”, and now transgender “rights”, else they not get food, medicine, or money to help build schools and water treatment plants. American Protestant missionaries, instead of taking advantage of our nation’s wealth and some of our Christian desire to convert the nations to Christ, will send countless missionaries to Catholic countries instead of to the nations of those who haven’t heard the Gospel yet; in doing so, sowing seeds of discontent, confusion, and sometimes even anger and violence – lands which once praised Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and had towns named after saints now have mobs of iconoclast Protestants smashing statues, screaming that the Pope is the antichrist, and slandering the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We operate the world’s largest military network, possibly in world history no less, having 662 bases in 38 different countries, all to keep the world safe (and yet the world has never been in more chaos) as we fund and arm radicals to keep civil wars going and kill countless civilians with drone strikes. We waste the most food. We use the most energy. We have the largest homes. Our materialism keeps industrial and agricultural slavery alive in the US and around the world. We continue to abort and contracept ourselves into a demographic winter, and then get upset when our government asks immigrants to help fill in all the empty spaces left by our selfish indifference. Our thirst for narcotics keeps the drug war going. Our children are committing suicide, murder, and rape. Boyfriends are killing girlfriends after breakups; husbands are killing their wives and children after divorces (and wives aren’t immune to doing this, either). Every day there’s another article about a married teacher – usually a woman – having sex with multiple students who are barely teenagers. We have an entire political party promising to discriminate against an entire race, as well as an entire religion; we have another political party dedicated to the culture of death to such extremes that it would rather die than to let go of abortion and the homosexual agenda. Most of the African-American communities in the US is forgotten about, having to live with a lack of education, economic opportunities, the destruction of their families, and unspeakable violence in their neighborhoods – and when they can’t take it anymore, when they’ve seen yet another one of their children die at the hands of gangs, drug dealers, thugs, or even police officers – and they finally erupt in anger because no one has cared or noticed – then we gather around to talk about how unruly they are, those free-loading welfare recipients.

This is a broken country. We are in terrible need of conversion, but if you say anything, you’re being negative, judgmental, or mean. Instead, we’ll continue to speak in vague generalities. We’ll continue to wave our little American flags at the appropriate times. We’ll continue to sing patriotic songs at Mass when it’s Memorial Day weekend or July 4 weekend. We’ll continue to say “God bless America” at the end of every speech. All the while, our churches – Catholic and Protestant – continue to empty. Faithful Christians will continue to be spit on and fought by heretical Christians. Atheism will continue to grow. Satanic Masses in the name of “freedom of religion” will continue to be the norm; most Christians will yawn and change the channel to watch what other crazy stuff Kim and her sisters will get into this week.

I love my country, and because I love Jesus Christ more, I love my country enough to desire her conversion. And this year I refuse to vote for Clinton or Trump, because both are indicative of the sickness that is in the US right now – we think as sheep we have to elect one wolf to protect us from the other wolf. And we choose to live through the lens of whichever political party we support, instead of living by the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Until we embrace the Bible and the Catechism, and live to be saints and martyrs, this nation will continue to burn and Christians will only have themselves to blame.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Prayer Before an Office

OPEN, O Lord, my lips to praise thy holy Name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding and kindle my affections; that I may worthily, attentively and devoutly say this Office and so may be heard before the presence of thy divine Majesty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention wherewith thou, whilst here on earth didst thyself praise God, I offer this Hour to thee.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Our Lady of the Angels

From Catholic Culture:

From the earliest days of the Church. Mary has held the title Our Lady Queen of Angels. At the Annunciation, at the Nativity, at her Assumption into heaven, and finally at her Coronation as Queen of Angels and Men, angels have been associated with Our Lady. There are a number of famous shrines dedicated to Mary under this title, including the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli at Assisi, where the great St. Francis recognized his vocation; the church in Rome which was designed and executed by Michelangelo on ruins from the time of Diocletian; the shrine of St. Mary of the Angels in Engeberg, Switzerland; Notre Dame des Anges near Lurs, France; the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Angels at Boulogne, France; the church of Our Lady of the Angels in London, England; and the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.