It is fitting as we mark the next-to-last year before the new millennium that we focus our attention on the monarchy of Christ and remember the hierarchy Jesus established, appointing His Vicar on earth - first with Saint Peter and followed by 264 other successors chosen by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead His Holy Church through the two millenniums following Our Lord's redemptive suffering, death, rising from the dead and Ascension into Heaven. He also left His authority with the Apostles and their successors - the bishops.
Today the bishops need to get back to acting like the apostles. They need to once more reassert their authority and stand for all Jesus commanded. They need to disdain this world and, through their example, lead the way for their flocks to gain eternal life by the only way souls can attain the merits of Heaven and residence in the Heavenly Royal Court - through the Cross. This translates to suffering, penance and prayer. It is our ticket to eternal salvation. But too many bishops fail to convey this as wise and responsible shepherds to their flock. Because of this weakness on many appointed episcopals, the Church today, especially in the United States, is left in a state of confusion, doubt and ignorance. Until now too few bishops were strong enough to stand up against Catholic politicians who, despite what they must believe and follow as members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, swerve from their creed and the doctrines of the Church in favor of pleasing their constituents. This is a prime example of "cafeteria Catholicism" wherein one wrongly thinks they can pick and choose the doctrines they want to believe or that are expedient and those they don't like or would hinder their lifestyle, they rationalize they don't have to follow. Sorry, but anyone doing that might as well call themselves "Protestants" because by their protesting, by their rebelling against the Catholic truths, no longer merit being called Catholic. The list of "Catholic" politicians who fall under this category are longer than we all would like. Hopefully, that list will be shortened considerably and we base this hope on a strong pro-life declaration voted on by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops this week in Washington, D.C. in which the bishops overwhelmingly approved a statement that would assure Catholic politicians adhere to Catholic doctrine both in their private lives and public lives as servants of the people. The vote was a lopsided 217 to 30. So who are the thirty who cowardly voted against these strict measures? We don't know all of them yet, but we do know, from the news article by CWN carried in today's NEWS & VIEWS, that the bishop from Albany, New York Bishop Howard Hubbard is one of the "fence-sitters" - the lukewarm which God alludes to in Apocalypse/Revelation 3: 15, "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of My mouth."
It bothers us greatly that Bishop Hubbard would be so concerned that by passing this statement that Catholic flocks and non-Catholic voters will think the Catholic politicians are nothing but puppets of the Church. It reveals a modernist's narrow thinking. Doesn't he realize that the only hope for America today is for the Church to speak out and act as one? After all, for over two millenniums as cultures and societies, empires and kingdoms have risen and fallen, one entity remained constant in this world - the Roman Catholic Church. And why? Not just because Jesus has promised He would be with her until the consummation of the world (cf. Matthew 28: 20), but also because the Church has always strived to swim upstream against the devil's current of convenience and exploitation of others. Holy Mother Church has stood as the beacon of Faith, Hope and Love in a world of darkness and never has the world been darker than today. Yet, when the bishops need to be totally united in upholding Catholic doctrine, dogma and tradition, there are a few who want to paddle their own canoe because they think they can enjoy both sides of the coin. They're going to go bankrupt spiritually if they think that; for the great deposit of Faith will not allow one to serve two masters. By bishops balking at staunchly affirming that great deposit of Faith, then they are not only bankrupting their souls and the souls of their flocks through their actions and inactions, but depleting the Church of her rightful mission on earth. Hubbard, who is supposed to be a wise shepherd, shows his true ignorance when he blurts out "we should just trust people...to cast their vote." Can you believe that?
Isn't that how this country and the Church in America has gotten itself into this mess in the first place? By trusting in the finite being and forgetting the Infinite? Exactly! They failed to understand what Our Lord meant when He says in Matthew 22: 21, "Render, therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." The Sanctity of life is not Caesar's but God's. Too many bishops allowed their flocks to forget this fact and many other truths of the Church. Sadly too few bishops exerted their pastoral powers immediately following Vatican II and allowed the people to turn their local parishes into democracies. They evidently trusted the people, and forgot to truly study the Vatican II documents. They got caught up in the "spirit of Vatican II" and failed to realize that the "spirit of Vatican II" had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit; Vatican II itself did, but the "spirit" in "spirit of Vatican II" was from that other other-world destination. "Satan," as Pope Paul VI said himself, "has infiltrated the Church and is now in the sanctuary." Why? Could it be because too few bishops endeavored to uphold the teachings and ensure that all the faithful received the proper education of the faith? Could it be that too few bishops placed spirituality as paramount in their diocese despite the lure for materialism and monies to fill the coffers of their diocese? Could it be that too few bishops ignored the voices of those with money in favor of professing the truth no matter the financial outcome? Could it be that too few bishops emphasized confessions and would not allow laxity to set in? Could it be that too few bishops preached the Gospel and truly lived it? Could it be that too few bishops remained loyal to liturgical directives from Rome? Could it be that too few bishops refused to be swayed by modernists and liberals that had infiltrated parishes, schools and chanceries? Could it be that too few bishops practiced humility and disdained the trappings of pride and power? Could it be that too few bishops remembered that they are successors of the Apostles?
The answer is "Yes" to all those questions and the fact bishops are still concerned with what others think and forgetting what Christ demands verifies that we're still in trouble today. For every great bishop like Cardinal John O'Connor of the Archdiocese of New York City who is not afraid to speak out for the Church no matter the consequences, there is a Bishop Hubbard from upstate who cowers and cringes when asked to assert the Faith. This is a sad commentary on our shepherds today and the main reason the Church is in such disarray. Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland, in his closing remarks as he turned over the gavel to the new president of the NCCB this past week, asked all factions within the Church to be considerate of each other and work together. That's a compromise we can't abide by, your excellency! By that we mean if someone is spewing heresy and viewpoints that go against Church teaching, there is no room for debate. The Holy Father has made that very clear regarding abortion, homosexuality, women priests, etc. Yet there are bishops like Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB of Milwaukee who still tries to forge these issues on the Church despite the Pope's decrees. We must pray for these weak and lukewarm bishops and their flocks for they are being mislead. We must pray that the Holy Father will continue to appoint good, loyal and committed bishops to dioceses where fence-sitting prelates take up space and contribute to satan's schemes. We must all remember Christ's words in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." We must pray that the people will come to the realization that Holy Mother Church is not a democracy. Think about it as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King this weekend and consider the liberal Catholic demands to have as much say as the Pope, Christ's appointed Vicar on earth in their quest for democracy in the Church. We ask one final question: How can you have a King in a democracy? Man cannot serve two masters! Nor can the bishops!
Here I would like to share more insights about this place that is truly one more sign of the Mercy of our great God. I would like to quote directly:
Sr. Emmanuel: What do these souls ask of you?
Maria: In most cases, they ask to have Masses celebrated and that one be present at these Masses; they ask to have the rosary said and also that one make the Stations of the Cross.
Sr. Emmanuel: Maria, can you tell us what the role of Our Lady is with the souls in Purgatory?
Maria: She comes often to console them and to tell them they have done many good things. She encourages them.
Sr. Emmanuel: Are there any days in particular on which she delivers them?
Maria: Above all, Christmas Day, All Saints Day, Good Friday, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Ascension of Jesus.
Sr. Emmanuel: Maria, why does one go to Purgatory? What are the sins which most lead to Purgatory?
Maria: Sins against charity, against the love of oneís neighbor, hardness of heart, hostility, slandering, calumny -- all these things.
Sr. Emmanuel: Saying wicked things and calumny are among the worst blemishes which require a long purification?
Maria: Yes... We mustnít judge on appearances. Other sins against charity are all our rejections of certain people we do not like, our refusals to make peace, our refusals to forgive, and all the bitterness we store inside.
Sr. Emmanuel: Maria, please tell us: who are those who have the greatest chance of going straight to Heaven?
Maria: Those who have a good heart towards everyone. Charity covers a multitude of sins.
Sr. Emmanuel: What are the means which we can take on earth to avoid Purgatory and go straight to Heaven?
Maria: We must do a great deal for the souls in Purgatory, for they help us in their turn. We must have much humility; this is the greatest weapon against evil, against the Evil One. Humility drives evil away.
Sr. Emmanuel: Maria, why can one no longer gain merits in Purgatory, when one can on earth?
Maria: Because at the moment of death, the time to earn merits is over. For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done. The souls in Purgatory envy us this opportunity. Even the angels are jealous of us, for we have the possibility of growing for as long as we are on earth.
Sr. Emmanuel: But often, the suffering in our lives leads us to rebellion and we have great difficulty in accepting and living it. How can we live suffering so that it bears fruit?
Maria: Sufferings are the greatest proof of the love of God, and if we offer them well they can win many souls.
So, dear reader, with Thanksgiving coming next week, letís remember to thank God for our earthly sufferings for they can lessen our Purgatory if properly received. And... let us thank God for Purgatory, too.
Happy Thanksgiving! and God bless you!
Reflect upon this mystery, my little ones. Only in heaven shall its fullness be revealed. I ask each of you, by an act of your will, to become totally obedient to God. You must at all times surrender your human will and seek only the Divine Will.
Pray to the Holy Spirit, Who shall assist you. For in this way, my dear children, my Immaculate Heart shall triumph sooner and countless souls shall be saved.
Pray! The entire world has become godless, except my faithful little army. Wear the armor of purity of intention. Make constant sacrifice. Attend Mass daily and worthily receive my Divine Son. The evil one shall soon strip my Divine Son from the majority of His people through his false peace, his apostasy, heresy and schism.
I call all of my faithful ones to be strong in the True Faith which, for many, is already driven into hiding. Do not be afraid, for God shall not abandon those who seek Him with repentant heart.
I remain for a very short time to prepare you. Therefore, heed my words and have firm hope in your Heavenly Father.
O! You are so cold, so lukewarm, so deceived by material possessions. Surrender all to God that your heart might be converted now.
I love and bless you. I love all my children. How my heart sorrows. Pray! Pray! Pray! Thank you for responding to my Call!
Now, I desire to say to all of my children: Be alert. Be strong in your faith, for each day more and more of my little ones fall prey to the great apostasy and schism through the heresies and blasphemies committed. Each day the dragon sweeps countless stars, who are my beloved priest-sons, from the Heavens and they are falling headlong into the abyss.
O! Pray for all priests, all consecrated religious. Offer the Great Hour of Mercy to the Father that my Immaculate Heart may triumph sooner. This is Mercy, for so many of my little ones shall be forever lost.
I solemnly tell you that your nation has chosen and follows the path to eternal perdition. I can no longer hold back the Justice. Now the Almighty Triune God shall allow your nation to progress unchecked along this path, as He permitted the troops of Pharaoh to follow after the chosen Israelites when He parted the Red Sea. To His faithful ones, He delivered them unharmed, but to those of wicked heart He buried them in the depths of the sea.
So it shall be now for your nation, and many other nations as war spreads and more and more lives are lost, and greed, lust, pride and all of satan's demons drive the forces of evil to men's cold hearts.
O! Turn back to God. Return Him to every aspect of life and be humble, simple children who trust their Heavenly Father. Then shall He protect you. Then shall He purify His creation and the Reign of the Sacred Heart shall come.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Birth of Francisco Castiglioni in Cingoli, Italy. He would go on to become a priest and cardinal and on April 5, 1829 be elected the 253rd successor of Peter taking the name Pope Pius VIII. His greatest strength was expanding missionary activity throughout the world.
Pope Leo XIII issues his 36th encyclical Catholicae Ecclesiae dealing with slavery in the missions in declaring it totally against God's Holy Will.
Pope Pius XII releases his 12th encyclical Mediator Dei on the sacred liturgy.
Death of Pope Saint Gelasius I, 49th successor of Peter. During his four-and-a-half-year papacy he instituted the Code for the uniforming of ceremonies and rites. Because of his charity he was called the "Father of the Poor." He maintained the supremacy of the Church over that of kings and inserted the "Kyrie eleison" into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope Saint Symmachus begins his reign as the 51st successor of Peter. During his sixteen year pontificate he would consolidate Church property refering to it as permanent benefices for the use of the clergy. He also was known for ransoming all the slaves and giving them their freedom. It is Symmachus who is attributed with the first construction of the Vatican Palace.
Pope Honorius III crowns Frederick II of Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperor. This would come back to haunt not just the Pope but all of Holy Mother Church in the great struggles between the Guelphs who represented the pro-papal party and the Ghibbelines who were pro-imperial and against the Church.
Death of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States. He was shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.
Pope John Paul II beatifies 85 martyrs who died for their faith during the persecution of Catholics in the British Isles between 1584 and 1689.
Pope John Paul II beatifies Blessed Cristobal Magellanes and his 24 companion Mexican martyrs along with Blessed Maria de Jesus Sacramentado Venegas.
Father all-powerful, God of love, You have raised our Lord Jesus Christ from death to life, resplendent in glory as King of creation. Open our hearts; free all the world to rejoice in His peace, to glory in His justice, and to live in His love. Bring all mankind together in Jesus Christ Your Son Whose Kingdom is with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.