Yesterday was designated by many as "National Day of Prayer." While this is commendable from a humanistic point of view and embraced by many in the 'spirit of ecumenism,' in truth for loyal Catholics such a designation is a slap in the face! That is because every day is and should be considered a "national day of prayer" because Catholics daily offer the most powerful prayer possible. With the celebrant they raise up in prayer the greatest prayer anyone can in praise, petition, adoration, and thanksgiving. On behalf of the faithful the priest, as an alter Christus offers Jesus Christ in the unbloody sacrifice of the altar to the Heavenly Father. I know, many are saying. "Oh no, it's a celebratory meal in which we unite in receiving Christ and celebrating our unity." Strange, but no where will you find that concept before Vatican II.
Yet the Roman Catholic Church was founded around 31 or 32 A.D. by our Lord when He commanded Simon Bar-Jona that from that point on he was Peter and upon him would be built His Church in which the gates of hell would not prevail no matter what (cf. Matthew 16: 18-19).
Oh, it's not as if the legions of gehenna have not tried. Never in history has satan been more active than he is in this day. The problem is he has so many willing recepticles to swallow his lies. This campaign to change the course of history by changing history began in earnest during the Protestant Reformation in the third decade of the sixteenth century. At that very same time when hundreds of thousands were defecting from the True Faith God sent His special emissary - the Mother of God on a very important mission. Just as He had chosen to become the Man-God in the human, but immaculate womb of this pure woman and chose to enter life in the most obscure of places - a simple stable away from the maddening crowd, so also He chose for Mary to appear to an obscure Aztec Indian peasant named Juan Diego. To this "insignificant" messenger she imparted a most powerful message, backed up by the miracle of the tilma that still hangs today as an on-going miracle in the Basilica of Guadalupe outside Mexico City. This message was to implore his people to stop human sacrifice.
Now the enlightened, the intellectuals would ask, well if that's what God wanted, why didn't He have the Blessed Virgin Mary appear directly to the Bishop or, even Montezuma himself? They forget her Divine Son's words in Matthew 18: 3-5, "Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. And whoever receives one such little child for My sake, receives Me." Besides that, the mighty Montezuma II, whom many considered a deity had already been dead eleven years - at the hands of Cortez at Tenochtitlan - when Mary appeared to Blessed Juan in 1531. Yet the culture he had perpetuated - the culture of death in human sacrifice - was continuing unabated despite the Spanish conquests.
Through a simple peasant and the Church's endorsement, millions converted to the True Faith in the New World. God has a way of balancing the scales.
But you don't hear that very much today in society. Even the history books are fast becoming obsolete. Documented accounts by those who recorded the events are discarded by the so-called periti today who manipulate historical causes and effects to suit their own agendas. One such example is with Montezuma. Here in Southern California we have San Diego State University, a California state school with an enrollment of well over 30,000 students. For over three-quarters of a century the nickname and tradition of this institution has been the Aztecs. Though they have been portrayed as a proud warrior tribe, they were also ruthless and thought nothing of slaying their enemies and sacrificing their own to the gods. That is the very reason Our Lady appeared - to stop the human sacrifice. For many years the Aztec sports teams have used as their mascot Montezuma himself. No one said a word as the muscular loin-clothed mascot in authentic finery of feathers and symbols incited the fans into a frenzy as he thrust his fiery spear into the gridiron sod of the home-turf at what is now Qualcomm Stadium, before that Jack Murphy Stadium and originally San Diego Stadium, a modern mecca to sports built in 1968 that to many is now old and needs to be either razed or reconfigured to suit the fancies of the expensive tastes of the elite. For us common fans it has always suited its purpose well and served as a comfortable, excellent-view facility to cheer on our teams in baseball and football, feeble though they may be.
And speaking of feeble, recently there has been a lot of flak from a few over the name "Aztecs" and in particular the way Monty (Montezuma II) is depicted. Despite an overwhelming vote by the student body to retain the mascot and name, a small minority has marshalled a campaign to change history, to cover-up the "sins" of the past by portraying the Aztecs as a peace-loving nation with great spirituality. In other words, to depict them as history says is a slur. The same tactics have been tried with the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves to name a few professional teams; the Florida State Seminoles and Illinois Fighting Illini to name a few college teams. Stanford bowed to political correctness and changed their name from the "Indians" to the cardinal. No relation to any ecclesiastical authority or the bird, just the "cardinal." Their mascot? A tree. Go figure. The Catholic University of St. John's in New York changed their nickname to the "Redstorm" because their Native American influence wasn't politically correct.
Why is it that only in the last thirty-years or so have these "transgressions" all of a sudden become wrong? First of all, everyone of these teams and collegiate institutions have chosen their respective name to coorelate with something that they esteem proud and noble. But that's not the way the self-appointed politically-correct police see it today. Countless high schools and other colleges are under scrutiny and pressure to change their nickname if it is offensive to anyone because of the pcp standards. Say what? Why don't we call all the teams the "Blanks?" That way we won't offend anyone. Unless there is someone out there who are bothered by that? But just think, if they're all called the same, then there will be no diversity - we'll all be one, so to speak. Yet the contradiction comes into play that we should "celebrate our diversities" - this quote comes directly from the Vatican, by the way.
And it is to the Vatican the world looks - especially the Catholic world, especially today as His Holiness Pope John Paul II, 265th successor of Peter becomes the first Sovereign Pontiff to set foot on Greek soil since Pope Constantine in 710. The atmosphere, though tense then, is much, much worse today. Our world has shrunk as have morals and responsibilities. Those in control have lost the reins to anarchy within each country, each religion. Though the Holy Father seeks to reconcile with all, it cannot be done in the manner it is playing out for it is not God's plan that the Church compromise her principles and values for the sake of pluralism and equality.
The Pope is in Greece today to complete his ambitious journey that took him from Abraham to Moses to the Holy Land where he walked in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and now follows in the footsteps of the Apostles, specifically Paul. I suspect John Paul may even feel he is walking into the same fate that befell the man once known as Saul. We pray he is preserved from peril in the land of the ancients and returns to clear up the peril within the Vatican that threatens to erupt into anarchy from within.
Yes, the Holy Father as Cyndi received in her message over seven years ago, "has much to suffer" and we pray that this suffering he is undergoing will end in the resurrection of the Church from the tomb she has been in for the past 37 years. Only the Pope can change the course for the better! Only the Rock of Peter can move the stone!