Why haven't we lived in peace and harmony? Could it be because, as a country, we have not defended life? Doesn't it sound hollow to hear the president, vice president or attorney general spouting platitudes on human dignity when they themselves don't believe a word they say as evidence by their actions. The night the Pope spoke the words about peace and harmony there was with John Paul II the man singled out as the Vice President of the United States, one Al Gore who even spoke in private with the Sovereign Pontiff. It was that same AlGore who blurted at the memorial services this past Sunday in Denver, "All of us must change our lives to honor these children." Ol' Al is right about changing our lives but wrong about the purpose. We should not change our lives to honor those children but rather to honor God Who alone gives and takes life. If those children are an incentive, a reminder, then their memory will spur us on, but the end cannot be the finite but rather the Infinite. Gore, in cahoots with Bill Clinton and the rest of that ilk must bear the brunt of the responsibility of what has happened in Denver because of their fostering the culture of death.
There's the ol' addage, if you play with fire you're going to get burned. For nearly a decade this administration has been "playing with fire" treating life in the flimsiest of ways regarding the unborn and senior citizens, but upholding the plaudits and rights of animals and endangered species without a soul. Many have said America has lost her soul and the violence over the last few years has been the results of what has been sown. The trouble is whenever there is a tragedy the media and political punsters bend our ears countlessly trying to nail down the culprit and psychoanalyzing the causes and effects ad nauseum. It's very simple, folks. Blame it on the devil! Oh, we don't mean to advocate shirking off responsibilities by passing off blame on others - in this case ol' lucifer himself, but remember what Our Lady has said beginning at Rue de Bac, then La Salette and on: That children would rebel against parental authority and lawful authorities. We're in those times prophesied, folks. So should anyone be surprised by what is happening? We could see it coming. Our Lord and His Blessed Mother has been warning of this in countless messages over the past several decades. There is only one remedy for this terrible malaise that has gripped the soul of America and a world plunged in darkness: Prayer! Nearly eighteen years ago the Blessed Mother appeared to six children in Medjugorje, her Oasis of Peace in what would become again a war-torn country engaged in ethnic strife dating back centuries. In speaking to the visionaires, Our Lady told the world through them that she had come to tell the world that "God exists, God loves us." For eighteen years she has been reminding us that if we would only hear her words and become as little children, she would lead us back to the very center of our lives and True Peace - her Divine Son Jesus, Who alone is the Redeemer of the world, the Savior, the Divine Font of Mercy to satisfy the Perfect Justice of the Father. In all of the Blessed Mother's messages from Medjugorje, Akita, Japan, Naju-Korea, Betania-Venezuela and from many other countless purported apparition sites on every continent the theme is echoed over and over: Return to Jesus.
Our Lady's message this month from Medjugorje echoes this same theme, again calling for fasting and prayer. "Also today I call you to prayer. Little children, be joyful carriers of peace and love in this peaceless world. By fasting and prayer, witness that you are mine and that you live my messages. Pray and seek!" Contrary to Mr. Gore's blind pompous panacea-like prognostication which he blindly offers with "change our lives," the only way is through prayer. There is no other answer. No amount of social programs or awareness, no amount of taboos and boycotts, no amount of gun laws can assure the world of a violence free society. There is only one way antidote to violence, to sin: Prayer! So if good ol' Al Gore truly believes that "we all need to change our lives" then he'll practice what he preaches by getting down on his knees as well as working to outlaw abortion and assisted suicide. If he doesn't do that, then we can be assured it was just more platitudes - all form, no function and proof that there is no substance to his convictions.
This editor, as well as a growing number of Catholics are getting fed-up with the way the media has manipulated us in conveying news of the Balkans or by elevating such wooden, phony platitudes as Al Gore or Clinton's hollow promises. The first feature story in the news today from ZENIT exposes the prejudice and unfair coverage given regarding the Church's vital role in striving for peace. It's sad that Gore gets the headlines when also in attendance was the good Archbishop of Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Conv.. Upon hearing of the shooting, he canceled all his appointments and immediately headed out to comfort and anoint victims on the afternoon of the terrible shooting. Unlike Clinton or Gore, he didn't do it as a photo op, but truly because the people needed him. That is why he is a good shepherd; that is why Denver is stronger because of his presence; that is why the Pope placed him in this area that John Paul II dedicated to Our Lady of the New Advent. Both the Archbishop and the Holy Father remind all, including Al Gore, of the Pope's words on Saturday, August 14 during his 4 pm powerful message at a packed McNichols Arena in 1993, "Everyone must become committed to fostering a profound sense of the value of life and the dignity of the human person." Whether Algore or any of his cronies realize it or not, this nation can only go in one direction in fostering a profound sense of the value of life and the dignity of the human person. That is to legally abort abortion forever. Anything less won't do and will forever brand Gore a liar of the first degree. This editor would like to be able to trust a president and vice president to carry out what they say, but it's been so long that we've just about given up hope. But we will never give up hope in God for that is our only salvation. Jesus and His Blessed Mother have repeated over and over the solution to our ills. On the eve of the feast of Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, that holy, dedicated French priest who was so dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and penned the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary , we should remember the secrets he revealed including his excellent work titled "The Secret of the Rosary." It is no secret the Rosary has too long been kept a secret from the people. Now, through Our Lady's pleadings, devoted souls within the Church and worthwhile organizations promoting the Rosary such as the World Wide Rosary Crusade which has launched an all-out effort to retrieve the soul of mankind before the soul is deformed forever by the ugly demons of hell. We just need to carry this weapon wth us at all times and pray it as often as we can. Remember we're all in this together. We've all heard the pronouncement "United we stand, divided we fall," but we need to also remember that prayer takes a concerted effort on everyone's part for United we Pray; Divided we're prey!
First of all, despite the fact that Alexander was a lech and a philanderer, he was an experienced administrator and after the terrible management of the Vatican affairs over the past half century, many welcomed his acumen in this area. His first rule of order had been to dispense justice in a stern, swift manner that was often tainted to further favor his position, no matter where or what that might be. He had made grandiose plans to reform the curia and mounted a PR campaign against the Turks. In truth, there was very little good that Alexander VI accomplished in Europe but it was some of the decrees he made regarding the demarcation of the new world that changed the political climate and eased the balance of emphasis to the western hemisphere and the evangelization of millions. Columbus' discovery and subsequent conquests by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers had caused consternation over who had territorial rights and thus Alexander literally drew a line of demarcation which was as the Jesuit publication Civilta Cattolica states, was "an act of truly peaceful import, and not of usurpation and ambition." Alexander's action resulted in Brazil forever having the Portuguese influence as they will celebrate the cinquitennial this year of the first Mass said in the sprawling, jungle land of Brazilia. His move also determined that Portugal would stay clear of lands north of Brazil such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominica Republic, Colombia, Central America and the pride of Spain - Mexico. Because the line he drew favored Spain, there was an adjustment in the Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494 in which he also granted the monarchs of these respective nations total control over the Church in the lands they colonized. With the mad rush to discover more of the new world Alexander issued various decrees to commit missionaries to the new world, chiefly the Franciscans and Dominicans. They would play a vital role in the mass conversions that would result from the Blessed Virgin Mary's visit first at Guadalupe and various other places in Mexico after that in the earlier part of the sixteenth century.
Alexander is the one who is credited for employing artists in the use of goldleaf from the first gold brought back from Mexico in the magnificent ceiling of St. Mary Major in Rome. He contributed much toward the Renaissance in Rome, refurbishing many cathedrals, churches and basilicas, some almost too lavishly at times given his propensity for over-indulgence. One of the lasting benefits he left was appointing the Praefectus Sacrarii Pontifici which he decreed should be selected solely from the ranks of the Augustinian priests. This position, also known as the "Pope's personal sacristan" was, and is to this day, an important office because of his intimate proximity to the Holy Father. Many regard the position as the person who oversees the Holy Father's "conscience" and the one man who handles the day to day practical functions of the Vatican. Ever since 1497 an Augustinian has served as the Pope's Sacristan.
While Alexander was a ruthless executioner and full of revenge for his enemies, he showed a kind, tolerant side to the Jews, treating them with respect and tolerance as opposed to some of his predecessors who regarded them as a threat. This especially angered Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand who considered them a serious threat to the faith in Castille. Throughout Alexander's papacy there was never a good rapport between the monarchy and papacy and both tolerated each the other as necessary evils that could be used for their own agendas. Though Alexander did "loan" the Italian master Bramante to the Spanish royal couple to design the Tempietto which was built on the site which is traditional considered where Saint Peter was crucified. Alexander also conducted the 8th Jubilee celebration in 1500 in which, for the first time ever the Holy Door was opened at St. Peter's, St. Paul's and St. Mary Majors simultaneously. Alexander also refortified Castel Sant'Angelo and built the Borgo Nuovo which stands between St. Peter's and the Tiber as the corridor leading to the Holy See in what was called Via Allesandrina. Alexander is the one who promoted Raphael and consigned him to various projects that would honor the Pontiff for posterity. But he would not have honor in posterity because of the way he lived and conducted his life and abused the powers given him by way of the papacy. While his actions and lifestyle, though sinful, might not have been so unusual to someone in the laity or low profile position, the scandals were magnified because of the magnitude of the position of Pope who people looked to for morality and holiness. With the death of Alexander VI, any spiritual remembrance of him was washed away with the blood he had exacted on those he sought revenge on. With his passing from poison on August 18, 1503 the Church had become weaker and more vulnerable than ever before to collapse. She would be threatened greatly and Holy Mother Church would be stretched to the limit as Christ's words "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" would be put to the most strenuous test yet as the century turned and the Protestant revolt loomed on the near horizon as we shall see in the next installment when we cover Pope Pius III: a far too-short lull between two tempests
Next issue: Pope Pius III: A far too-short lull between two tempests
I want to run to her, fall upon my knees and ask her help, because with each passing moment, and during the times of these interior visions, I recognize very clearly my wretchedness. I see the pride, the self-righteousness, and the many uncharitable thoughts and words which have passed through my mind and lips.
But she holds out her hand and invites me to come and stand beside her. I find I move and I lay my imperfect hand into her Immaculate one. I am not afraid, only filled with a peace, joy, and love that defies all human words.
She speaks to me. "My child, I wish you to be always near me so I can hold you against my heart. I will show to you now that which Scripture tells, for my children everywhere must know that all Scripture is Truth. Yet all the wonders my Divine Son gave to mankind could not be contained in all the books ever w written. They must see as you will see that my Risen Son was generous beyond measure in allowing many to see Him, to recognize Him as the Man and as God, that the Gospel message might take deep root and spread."
I am within her embrace and I am aware of neither time nor place. I look where she looks and see interiorly that which I will now attempt to describe. May God forgive my inability to do justice to that which I must put in human terms, and may the Holy Spirit fill in any gaps my finite being might leave.
I see Peter and John in the room where the Apostles are gathered. They are in animated conversation. But the other Apostles, fighting their own human wills are still uncertain. The body of the Master is gone. Risen? O! They truly want to believe, but the nagging doubt remains, "What if the body was stolen?"
Suddenly I am at Lazarus' estate in Bethany. I pass swiftly through the house where more Apostles and many disciples are gathered. I see Mary of Magdala in their mist repeating for them all that she did, saw, and heard, and I hear the exclamations of these faithful ones who desperately want to believe, who even wish they had been in Mary's place.
But I move on. Martha, Lazarus' sister/house-keeper is hurrying along a clean corridor, giving instructions to servants to prepare food for their guests. She does so lovingly, but as one accustomed to managing such large affairs. She appears at peace, but keeps looking toward the large room where her sister is speaking and her sharp ears hear enough to satisfy her own heart. "He is risen, as He said!"
I move outdoors, to the garden where Jesus often sat in silence to pray and meditate. I see Lazarus, who is seated upon the stone bench where only a few days ago Jesus sat, praying to fulfill the Father's Will in His Passion.
Lazarus' eyes are half-closed. He looks tired, but yet at peace. He does not stir and thus is startled to hear his name called.
His eyes open. He is peering into the bright light of full day.
"Lazarus," comes the familiar voice again. Now Lazarus gets up, straining to see who calls him, wondering if it is one of the Apostles.
He takes several steps forward where there is an interplay o light and shade as sunlight filters between leafy trees. He stops abruptly. He can see the figure of a man in front of him.
You call me. Your voice…."
"Lazarus, you are My faithful friend. You have worked hard to do the Father's Will. I could do no less than come to you. Arise, Lazarus, look at Me."
As Lazarus stands up, Jesus permits His faithful friend to see Him in all of His Eternal Glory.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part two: Behold His Glory!
Events Today in Church History
On this date in 1509 Pope Julius II, the former Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, bitter enemy of Pope Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia, excommunicated the entire city of Venice for their refusal to part with the properties and territories of Romagna which had been held by the heretical and evil Cesare. For other pertinent events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
After the death of seventy more from riots following the death of Guiliano de' Medici, the Pope at that time Pope Sixtus IV is drawn into war with Florence - a war that would last two years.
Pope Julius II excommunicates the entire city of Venice because of her refusal to rid themselves of those parts of Romagna they had occupied under the supervision of the dangerous and heretical Cesare Borgia.
Death of Portuguese explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan who was killed by Filipino natives in the Philippines.
Establishment of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines at Cebu City. These islands bordering the Orient and Oceania would become a Catholic stronghold over the years thanks to the dauntless efforts of so many missionaries, mostly from Spain.
Death of Pope Leo XI. 232nd in the line of Peter who died during a procession on the way from the Vatican to the Lateran after just under three weeks on the papal throne.