Ah, the consequences of technology! We were notified late Wednesday afternoon last week that our Internet Provider was upgrading us to a larger server as well as changing our data and stats source to another and that we wouldn't be able to FTP ( until today. Therefore, we scurried about to put together an issue that would carry over for all with little warning that we would be down this long. The IP also offered to do a diagnosis of our hard drive to make sure it would be compatible with the new server. Though we didn't thinks so at the time, it was really a blessing in disguise for the diagnosis revealed there was a virus that had crept in via e-mail and it had slowed the system down terribly. The diagnosis indicated the ol' computer was on its last legs. After all, we had purchased it back in 1994. Therefore, we took advantage of the down time to install a whole new hard drive with more gig space, pump up to 350 megahertz and upgrade from Pentium to Pentium II and boost the old 28 K modem to a 56K modem. Things are humming now. But we did lose all our e-mail history data so if you have e-mailed us and haven't heard back from us, chances are you won't unless you e-mail us again because that file was damaged and, to make sure we didn't recirculate the virus, the entire file had to be eliminated. This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension when Our Lord rejoined His Heavenly Father, leaving His Spirit to guide and inspire us always. After getting the bugs fixed and the ol' mainframe rebuilt from ground zero, we feel our spirits soaring again as we wipe off the cobwebs of a few needed days down for maintenance. After this special Ascension issue over the four-day weekend, the DAILY CATHOLIC will resume its regular schedule on Monday, leading up to next Sunday which will be Pentecost Sunday, the day of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of Confirmation.
Every day when we pray the Apostles' Creed we pronounce the words "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins..." We say "Communion of Saints" but how many truly know what that means? Most Confirmation and CCD classes don't, sadly because it is no longer emphasized. Why? We only wish we knew, but we will endeavor to analyze a few reasons that make sense for the decline. One reason is because "Communion of Saints" delineates us from the Protestants too much and in this politically-correct era of nonsense we can't offend those who don't hold credence in Purgatory or the importance of the intercession of saints. Consequently they don't believe in the Communion of Saints which includes the Church Suffering or, for that matter the Church Triumphant as well for ever since Martin Luther they've chucked most of the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary in favor of the totally misinterpreted passage of John 14: 6 in which Our Lord says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me." which they think means that everything else is superfluous. They forget that to honor Christ's Mother is the greatest honor we can give to Jesus. But, for the most part, trying to argue this with a non-Catholic turns into an argument more often than not instead of discussion and too many Catholics cower from this and compromise their faith in the process. This results in watering down our faith either with the purpose of not offending or not wanting to engage others in apologetics, thus plunging us into a state of perpetual inconsequence. Folks, ever since Vatican II we've taken the easy way out. That's not what Our Lord wants and not what His Spirit intended when the Council Fathers gathered for the Second Vatican Council. Nor was it their intention to shelve the excellent Baltimore Catechism. But that's what happened.
Having taught CCD and Confirmation classes for several years, this editor can see the great void that was created by the loss of the Baltimore Catechism. Rather should we say "gaping chasm!" While the new Catechism of the Catholic Church is a very good source, it is not applicable or practical to the youth because of its depth and length. We need to bring back the "black and white" facts of the Baltimore Catechism so our youth and adults as well will know their faith and be able to convey it to others. So what if they have to memorize it, that's part of the learning process that is also shucked today in favor of "responsive osmosis" where they'll learn at their own pace. Right!!! With no boundaries or responsibilities for our actions we, as a society, have fallen into that state of perpetual inconsequence. We fail to realize that there are consequences and we must "pay the piper" so to speak either now or later. It reminds us of the AAMCO commerical - "you can pay me now, or you can pay me later!" Believe us folks, you don't want to pay later! That's why Jesus established His Church on earth to help us "pay as we go" and not have the huge debt all at the end. He's even given us "crib notes" and bonus points to avoid the long lines and penalty-free pay-offs through the Sacraments in which we acquire Sanctifying Grace in building up dividends that are unparalleled. But so few really know how it all works, why it all works, when it all works, and all the other mechanics of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The new curriculums in CCD classes are too much "feel good" oriented and over emphasize reaching out to others. While there is nothing wrong with the latter in the true Christian sense, the exclamation mark has to be on the "vertical" between man and God before we reach out horizontally to our fellow man. Too often the latter takes precedence over the former. When we do that we are closing up, for we extend our hands and then close them in reaching to God, whereas if we properly are anchored in God first and foremost, then we can more readily and correctly extend our arms out downward in a brotherly gesture to reach our fellow man. You see one of the other problems today also as a result of that state of perpetual inconsequence has its origins when they took God out of the schools. Don't tell us satan hasn't had a field day and the increased violence right up to Columbine are a direct result of this Divine void. God allows evil for good and it's interesting to note that before the shooting, no mention of the Almighty was allowed on campus whatsoever. After the trajedy that is all we hear and see, tributes to God and Jesus name everywhere with crosses for each victim. When push comes to shove, God remains supreme in all things and at the forefront of our thoughts. It's only natural.
One of the great fallouts over the past thirty years as been the deemphasis of saints. Growing up we could count on the "saint of the day" for inspiration and search for their pictures or statues, finding attributes and virtues to emulate. Today, saints' names which used to be automatic for Catholics are now being replaced by new age and popular names like Tiffany or Cody, both of which are more popular than Mary or Joseph. But those names were given to us by our parents. The one time we could choose a name was for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The purpose was to choose a saint we could call on for help in strengthening us and who we could emulate. This editor has always called on Saint Anthony of Padua as my chosen Confirmation name for fortitude. That's why it saddens us today that even in the Sacrament of Confirmation, when this indelible mark from the Holy Spirit is bestowed at the moment of the bishop's laying of hands and holy chrism to those who have passed from childhood into teenhood, even then saints continue to be downsized.
This occurred last week when our oldest son Kevin Michael, now sixteen, received the Sacrament of Confirmation along with fifty-four other teens in a beautiful ceremony at our parish with numerous priests and deacons assisting Bishop Gilbert Chavez, the long-lasting beloved auxiliary bishop of San Diego. Every part of the ritual was reverent and meaningful, but there was something missing. That was when each of the fifty-five candidates were called out by name. They were called by their baptismal name without the name they may or may not have chosen for Confirmation. It's sad that when Pope John Paul II is canonizing more saints than ever before, our diocesesan educational programs are shelving them as fast as the Holy Father presents them. We had encouraged Kevin to think seriously about taking the name Pio in honor of the newest beatified - Padre Pio but he opted instead for another saint of this century and we were delighted - Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the devoted priest of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz who gave his life to save a Jewish husband and father. Kevin not only liked the name, but felt a kindred bond to this Polish Conventual Franciscans who founded the Militia of Mary Immaculate in Rome. And that pleased us even more for it all comes full circle in the Communion of Saints with the Chuch Militant. He has become a "soldier of Christ" infused by the Spirit that won't change his personality overnight, but hopefully will change his resolve. And we pray will change the resolve of all the others to stand and fight for their faith, to "Put on the armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" as Saint Paul calls for in Ephesians 6. That's what Confirmation is all about, to make us "soldiers of Christ" which, sadly is also deemphasized today. Now the proper word is "disciple of Christ." While that is fine, we are greatly missing the opportunity if we drop the militant nature of our faith and fail to call the confirmed "soldiers of Christ" for by not identifying the new recruits as such we are weakening the corps by pacifying them into that state of perpetual inconsequence. St. Maximilian Kolbe had a reason for calling his group of lay and clergy "Militia of Mary Immaculate" for he was a visionary who could see beyond the swastika to the glorious Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart promised at Fatima. The bond between John Paul II and Fr. Kolbe are strong. Both were Poles, both totally devoted to Our Lady, both realize the militant necessity of standing up for our faith and being obedient good soldiers. The strong devotion St. Maximilian had toward Our Lady of Fatima and, no doubt his intercession as a Blessed servant, played a role in the Holy Father's recovery from a bullet the Pope took on May 13, 1981. Upon his recovery, the next year the first saint John Paul II canonized during his pontificate was his fellow countryman Father Kolbe, who, in turn is doing all in his part among the Church Triumphant to help effect the Triumph in order to usher in the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart.
Kevin and his class of fifty-five along with countless other Confirmation classes throughout the world will be the leaders of tomorrow, during that glorious time promised in Sacred Scripture and by Our Lady. It's vital that these new recruits know the faith in order that they can pass on the traditions and teachings to others in the new millennium, one where millions will flock back to the true Church. The consequences of those who don't return, or cannot convey the basic truths of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to others: they will sadly become victims of that state of perpetual inconsequence!