Sadly, too many Catholics today fail to realize you can't take it with you. As Americans we are truly spoiled. With the exception of pocket areas in this country and in our urban areas, we do not know want, we do not know the ravages of war and pestilence, we do not know what poverty truly is. We have no concept what it means to be hungry. Oh, our sons will say they're hungry and will starve to death unless they get some pizza. But offer them a piece of bread and a glass of water instead and they'll retort, "Nah, I'm not hungry anymore!" If they truly knew what it was to starve, they'd waffle down the bread and water like hungry cretins. But we have no idea, just as Bill Clinton has no idea when it comes to understanding, dealing with and complying to the Holy Father's request to have compassion on the poor of the world. The Pope has been hammering home the philosophy and theology of reconciliation and making amends, specifically decrying the Third World countries' plight. His hope is to effectively convince the haves to help the have-nots and wipe the slate clean of debt and famine as the world heads into a new millennium. He has asked advanced nations who are well-off to forgive the debts of Third World impoverished countries. He has come to "preach the gospel to the poor" (ref. Luke 4: 18). You can bet your bottom dollar he will bring up this refrain when speaking with the leader of the most advanced, richest nation on the face of the earth. How will Clinton respond? We hope in a positive, accepting manner. But knowing his track history he'll give his Holiness plenty of lip service and glad handing but ignore the Sovereign Pontiff's appeal with the excuse that the national economy will suffer and security would be at stake if the US forgave all debts and lifted the enforced embargoes on the Iraqi and Cuban people, not to mention America's treatment of the situation in many African countries and the former Yugoslavia. Hopefully the Holy Father will somehow get through the thick skull of the man from Arkansas and convince him it is the right thing to do. We can always pray that John Paul II, as he has done with so many millions over the years, including crusted, hard-line leaders of nations and philosophies, will appeal to the inner sensibilities of Bill Clinton and that somewhere, somehow he will touch a nerve of goodness and decency in this man. After all with a man born in Hope, Arkansas there has to be hope!
Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall of that St. Louis hanger? We doubt Monica Lewinsky will be discussed, though we know the Pope will be thinking of another Monica - Saint Monica and emulate her resolve of praying for her wayward son Saint Augustine. The Holy Father knows it's never too late for anyone and that's why we continue to pray daily that Bill Clinton will see the light and amend his ways before he has to stand before the Great Judge to account for the millions he has scandalized and deceived. You know the Pope is going to bring up abortion, assisted suicide, bombing aggression in the mid-east, and quite possibly the whole gay acceptance thing. Clinton won't admit it publicly but we suspect he's in for a gentle, but firm tongue-lashing by the most respected man in the world. We suspect the Holy Father will tweak the conscience of Clinton and Americans in general to do the right thing for to continue the course we are on now is certain suicide. Greece and Rome proved this. It is not the manner of this gentle Polish Pope to berate someone but we suspect he will greatly challenge Clinton and his administration, as well as the people of this great land.
There is expected to be 600,000 to 700,000 people turning out to greet the Holy Father in the Gateway City. We doubt Clinton could draw one one-hundredth of that amount. Therefore, we hope he keeps in mind the people are not there to see him, but rather a man they deeply admire and respect - the Sovereign Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church - the "Apostle of Hope" for the world. While the Pope and the President are in this celebrated confab, we wonder if Clinton will apologize for receiving Holy Communion in South Africa last year. Quite possibly the Vicar of Christ will impress on him the sacredness of this sacrament and that it was a slap in the face to Catholics the world over for him to have trivialized such an important rite of the Church. It is no coincidence this meeting is taking place at the gateway to the west - where settlers set out over a century ago to tackle the wild west. Gary Cooper had his "High Noon;" now Wild Bill Clinton, the gunslinger who has carelessly and brazenly fired bullets of immorality and lies, will meet his match and more when he meets the "Sheriff of Rome" in this long-awaited, inevitable "Showdown in St. Louis!"
Clement's stiff resistance to reconciliation moved Boniface to ignore him for awhile rather than deal with him. The latter realized he was the true Pope and so he set about healing the fizzures that he could throughout Christian Europe, first certifying that England and Germany to remain loyal to him. He won them over as well. Yet, because of cultural differences and national interests Boniface still had enemies. One was Louis II, Anjou king who had been appointed by Clement. Boniface threw his backing and coffers behind the Sicilian king Ladislas who would enter Naples in July 1400 to reclaim the Neopolitan empire for Boniface and Rome. During his pontificate Boniface set about to reconstruct the magnificent Castel Sant'Angelo on the Tiber which had been pummeled into ruins by constant attacks. But Boniface was a healer and so he extended another olive branch to Clement, promising that if he abdicated there would be no punishment and all his cardinals would be free to continue as bonafide prelates with no fear of reprisal. Boniface even promised Clement a papal legacy. Clement was getting on in age and the struggles over the years were taking its toll. Yet, he steadfastly resisted. He also turned his attention to France and the court of King Charles whom, through his persuasive, disarming manner, he convinced of his legitimacy as Pope. When Clement passed away on September 16, 1394 it looked very likely that the Church would be one again. But a funny thing - or should we say 'sad' - happened "on the way to the forum." The Clementine cardinals - twenty one of them at Avignon, encouraged to work to end the schism by the French monarch, swore to abdicate the papacy if chosen. That way the schism would officially be over. The unanimously chose Cardinal Pedro de Luna, a prelate from Aragon who shocked all by becoming a turncoat and refusing to abdicate. Instead he took the name Benedict XIII on September 28, 1394. In effect, he was another Urban VI! The power had gone to his head. Even though King Charles tried to convince him to renounce the Avignon papacy, that just ensconced Benedict further in his resolve to stay on. Benedict was crafty and he felt he could wrestle more power by offering a much publicized meeting with Boniface IX. He inaugurated the showdown in September 1404. But Boniface would not be able to make the appointment for, as much as he wanted to reunite the Church, he had run afoul of politics, specifically in Germany where, in an effort to offset any kind of rebellion, had thrown all support behind the German king Wenceslaus giving him the power to raise tithes in the churces for his military endeavors. Boniface ran into that age-old problem: Promising something you don't have or can't give. This caused him to run into serious problems by dispensing indulgences to raise more money to pay the piper. Thus were the seeds of simony planted. To cover one mistake he piled on more favors, until he was bankrupt; so much so that he was forced to flee Rome for a while.
It is a shame Boniface's pontificate came to that for it started out so strongly. Yet, it would be unrealistic to think one man could wipe out the bad will and serious damage done by Urban VI in such a short time. Boniface tried, but because of his zeal he ran afoul; not because he was devious or immoral, but rather so concerned for the people and so dead-set against the schism that he became a fool who rushed in where angels feared to tread. When one balances the accomplishments vs. his setbacks the former would far outweigh the deficits. He had made great strides despite the promise of favors, and had come closer to ending the schism than many think because he basically had all the monarchs of Europe behind him. He genuinely felt the schism was on its last legs when, on September 1, 1404, he received the invite from Benedict to meet. But he never kept the appointment for a kidney stone lodged in his colon and caused him to bleed to death internally as he succumbed on October 1, 1404. Benedict did not know for he was enroute. He would meet with an entirely different scenario as we shall see in the next installment when we cover Pope Innocent VII.
Pope Innocent VII: The Pope and the Riddle that riddled Europe: When is a murder not a murder?
Behold, I have told you that great trials shall befall mankind, and many of these catastrophes have occurred. They are allowed by God to awaken you from the slumber of your souls.
How many tears I have shed for you, my children! They are ceaseless, my tears which fall as graces and prayers upon the sorrowful world.
You are truly my children, but you do not understand this. You are so filled with pride. O! I desire for you to be little children who are completely content to be in my arms where I carry you to the Sacred Heart of my Divine Son.
Pride rules your world; greed, lust, perversion of every kind. All that is contrary to the law of God reigns upon the earth, and daily the spiritual darkness grows so that satan might carry you to the abyss.
Behold, the days of hard hearts reign. And my tears are tears of blood as I weep for my consecrated ones. O! How lovingly I desire to guide all of my priest-sons in their vocation, that they might be true shepherds. Behold, I solemnly tell you too many of my priest-sons have become wolves, leading the innocent to slaughter, and daily increasing satan's weapons of confusion and dissent. For all those who live consecrated lives, they live as men and women of the world. They have forsaken their holy calling and seek only the humanistic satisfaction which comes from their pride. They are no longer humble, obedient children, but rebellious children that greatly offend the Most High God. Where are my faithful ones?
My Mantle is open to receive my faithful ones. But soon, sooner than your finite minds can grasp, the Almighty Father shall remove my Immaculate Mantle and then my children shall be alone in their struggle, for they will have rejected God and chosen of their own free will to go the way of the world - which is satan.
The great battle rages, but you refuse to see or recognize it. Therefore, I solemnly tell you again: Pray! Pray! Pray! Be of great faith. No longer murmur and pass finite, fallible judgments upon those whom God has chosen as His messengers. You must speak very little, and pray very much! I am calling all of my children back to the Truth, to full, devout reverence for God. I am asking you to awaken and believe that each Mass is and must be a True Sacrifice of Calvary. I am pleading for you to restore my Divine Son to His rightful place in the Church, and to bow down before Him, your God and Savior, on bended knee. I am beseeching all whose hearts are just and upright to recognize that all desire for piety, reverence and respect for God has been stripped from you. In so many churches my Divine Son's True Presence is no longer viable because of the serious blasphemies and heresies committed against Him. Where He is not present, I, His Mother, am not present.
Thank you for responding to my Call.
The Hour of Great Darkness comes. This is the time of Great Sorrow, the Year of Tears. Many shall be the events which shall be for the faithful ones the sign of God's approaching justice.
Therefore, I solemnly tell you anew: Pray. Fast and make constant sacrifice. Be obedient to my beloved son Pope John Paul II whose voice shall soon be silenced by apostasy and schism.
All I have foretold now comes to pass. Be strong. Love God and seek Him alone, and fear nothing.
Know I tell you all these things out of love, for I am among you as the New Ark, the Woman Clothed with the Sun. I shall crush the head of the serpent as Scripture foretells. Pray, and come under the protection of my Immaculate Mantle where God shall enlighten and sustain you.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Death of Saint Paula, Roman Patrician widow who provided provisions for Saint Jerome, Saint Epiphanius and Saint Paulinus of Antioch. Before becoming a Jeronomite abbess, she distributed all her riches for the building of hospitals, monasteries, convents and churches in the city of Bethlehem.
Death of Saint Conan, Irish saint and bishop who ministered to the people of Scotland and the Isle of Man where he was the first bishop of Sodor on the island.
Death of Saint Thordgith, a mystic and victim soul who was the novice mistress of the convent founded by Saiint Ethelburga at Barking Abbey.
Death of Saint Alberic, monastery founder and second abbot of the Cistercian Monastery at Citeaux in France.
Death of Saint Austin, Bishop, abbot and missionary. He penned the accounts of Saint Olaf a fellow Norwegian, and evangelized England as well as Greenland and Iceland.
Death of Saint Margaret of Hungary, the austere and holy Queen of Hungary who died in Budapest on this date at only 28 years-old. This devoted woman, who had a tremendous devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sometimes saying 1000 Hail Mary's a day, was an example to all through her humble observance of penances and austere lifestyle. She was related to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Hedwig and King Saint Stephen.