The same goes for the Church where, since the Second Vatican Council, many clerics and lay leaders leaned heavily to the left in trying to cook up something that was never intended. It has taken the master chef -Pope John Paul II - to rid the clerical kitchen of those whose agendas are not palatable to the Almighty. Over the years he has slowly prepared recipes of common sense, loyalty to God through loyalty to His Vicar on earth, and a return to reverence in presenting a repast that is most pleasing to the Triune Divinity. While the tastes of most are universal, to modernists the Holy Father's menu is sour and inedible to their minds and hearts. Sad, because as reviews go, the Pope's spiritual potables are a meal fit for a King - Jesus Christ - the King of Kings. His Holiness is serving filet mignon and grade A steaks, while some want hamburger or sausage with a mixture of dangerous ingredients. But the Pope is ferreting out these bad elements with numerous encyclicals, a new Catechism, and a rash of Apostolic Letters that lets everyone know exactly what is on the table. His latest - Apostolos Suos on regulating Bishops' Conferences - has been received enthusiastically by many prelates. It's a good barometer to see who stands with him and who doesn't by listening over the next few weeks to comments by each bishop on the repercussions of this. If it is criticized, then beware of your bishop. If it is praised, then be assured you probably have a good one and pray that you can keep him. Over the past ten years the landscape of the bishops around the world has changed considerably to the good. Many of the modernists who have died or retired have been replaced not by their choices, but by much more conservative bishops often times hand-picked by the Pope.
This very intelligent move by the Holy Father indicates we are close to that time known as the harvest as Jesus talks about in Matthew 13: 30, "Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers: Gather up the weeds first and bind them in bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into My barn." The Holy Father is one of the Lord's "reapers" who is binding the bundles together by forcing the bad fruit to show their hand in the manner Christ says in Matthew 12: 30, He who is not with Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters." The Pope is making sure that those within the ranks of official ministers of Holy Mother Church are with Christ. Those who are not, are not with the Pope either. Ergo: they will be scattered to the winds, disgarded in the great bin of spoiled components. This unappetizing scenario should be enough to shock the liberals back into conformity with what the Church expects and demands.
Hamburgers are the fare of those who are on the go. Quick, but not totally healthy. It's interesting to note that heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer increased dramatically after the invention of the beef pattie. Not that the burger is the main culprit but it is indicative of man's lifestyle where he has placed more emphasis on things of this world than God's world. And that's no bull! The culinary habits of America vastly coincide with the decline of family life, values and morals over the past several decades. Where once our grandparents prepared meals made from scratch, fashioned by the sweat of their brows in the gardens, fields and ovens, today we pop something into the microwave with no thought as to what harmful ingredients are in these often-times inedible "dinners." We're as guilty as the next. Don't know how many times we've gone to the supermarket and the kids bring to the cart a frozen meal and this editor's first question: "Is it microwaveable?" Spoiled by convenience we are! All of us. One reason, of course, is cost. Who among us can make a steady diet of restaurant food when raising a family. It costs $30 to $50 just to take a family to dinner at Denny's. Imagine what it costs to take them to an expensive restaurant? We wouldn't know, we can't afford it.
But each and everyone of us cannot afford not to listen to the Pope and follow his directives faithfully. If we do, we can be assured we're well on the way to feasting at the eternal banquet forever. If we don't, then we have no reason not to be surprised when we find ourselves scattered and disgarded, ground up like leftover entrails in the devil's meat grinder. That is no way to go! If you think it won't happen - look at the flaming neon sign on the arches of the entrance to hell: Billions refused to serve!
Pope Saint Zephyrinus had just been elevated to the Chair of Peter in 199 AD. In the 18 years he governed as the 15th Pontiff, Pope Zephyrinus met with bitter theological struggles including dealing with Gnosticism, Praxeasism which denied the doctrine of the Trinity, Manescheism which was the doctrine of two eternal beings - Light and Dark, and Marcionism. The most heart-rendering decision Zephrinus had to make was excommunicating the noted Apologist Tertullian who stubbornly clung to some of Marcion's theories regarding sin. Born in Carthage around 160 AD, Tertullian was well-educated in Greek and Latin lit, eventually earning honors in law, specifically in Rome. In 193, after studying Christianity for some time, he converted to the faith. Shortly after he returned to his native-Carthage to defend the faith. With his expertise in Latin he became known as the "Father of Ecclesiastical Latin" with his greatest work being the "Apologeticus" in which he clearly theorized how Christ's one, true Church was the only faith. It was Tertullian who immortalized the words, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity." For all the good he did, unfortunately because of his stubbornness and fanatical stance toward certain points in the tenets of faith, such as being too severe toward sinners. He was in content, the first Calvinist. Though his works have been studied and admired by many saints, those points and his insistence on following the teachings of the heretic Marcion forced Zephyrinus to painfully have to excommunicate Tertullian. There are reports that shortly before he died in 240 he amended his thinking and asked forgiveness of the Church.
To offset Tertullian's pride, God rose up another who was undaunted in defending all tenets of the faith. This was Origen who had been made head of the Catechetical School in Alexandria in 203. Twenty seven years later he was removed for he had not notified his bishop that he had been an ordained priest for quite some time. The bishop forced him out, but Origen moved on to Caesarea opening another school that would become as renowned as his former school in Alexandria. Because of his widespread notoriety as one of the greatest defenders of the faith and the fact Origen had been promoting the idea that there was comparative peace throughout the Roman empire as a result of so many conversions to Christianity, the Emperor Decius decided to make an example of Origen. Thus he was arrested and inhumanly tortured in efforts to get him to forsake his faith. But he would not budge from the goal of following Christ to the end. Fearing a backlash from the people over the apparent inability of the Roman emperor to break this man of God, Decius had him released. However, Origen who had grown feeble and brittle from being beaten to a pulp lived only a few more years...yet he lived those years in freedom defending the faith to his dying breath.
The last of the well-known Apologists was Saint Cyprian. A student of both Tertullian and Origen, Cyprian hailed from wealthy lineage in Carthage. This teacher of rhetoric became a Christian in 245 and was moved by the passage in Matthew 19: 20-30 about the rich man. Unlike the rich man who walked away, Cyprian embraced Christ's words and gave all he had to the poor and became a beacon of faith to all his followers. He wrote numerous volumes defending the Church, specifically his well-known defense: "On the Unity of the Catholic Church" in which he staunchly asserted that "outside the Church there is no salvation. He cannot have God as his Father who has not the Church for his Mother." Cyprian was marytred in 258 at the hands of the Emperor Valerian.
Some of those who had heard and responded to Cyprian sought a more contemplative life to live, pray and offer mortification. Thus, some of them retreated from Alexandria and Carthage toward the deserts of northern Africa to live by themselves in order, they reasoned, to be closer to God. These men were called hermits, recluses or Anchorites and the first of these holy solitary men were Saint Anthony of Egypt and Saint Paul of Thebes. They attracted many followers, and though they came together to teach, Anthony and Paul insisted on solitary not only for themselves but their followers as well. Every hermit was assigned their own cell, spending their day in prayer and fasting. These were the forerunners of the monastic, cloistered contemplative orders that would evolve in later centuries. Many of these hermits had studied under both Origen and Tertullian and though the latter had been excommunicated, his writings still inspired the faithful.
Tertullian also wrote about the staggering blooming of Christianity throughout the Roman empire, "We are but of yesterday, yet we crowd your cities, your colonies, your army, palace, Senate, Forum. We leave you for yourselves only your temples." This attitude of "deal with it" left the Roman emperors seething - from Septimus Severus to Maximian to Decius to the most vile of all, Diocletian, they all vowed to crush Christianity as we shall see in the next installment when we treat the persecutions of the Third Century and the tactics used by pagan Rome to crush Christianity. Little did they know of Christ's words in Matthew, "...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Blood of the Martyrs replenishes a flourishing Church: 200-250.
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Today, I will speak to all My children concerning My Fifth Commandment, one much misunderstood, which admonishes and commands "Thou shalt not kill!"
Oh! How much evil lurks in the hearts of My children, the result of your human nature weakened by Original Sin and the trickery of satan who swells your ego and passions to poisonous levels.
In all of My little children there exists the potential to kill if you do not constantly seek My grace, My Life, My Mercy and Forgiveness and rid yourself of all bodily excesses.
As it is with all of My Commands, so it is with this one. To keep it, to understand it, your conscience must be well-formed by Me. How, My children, can you have a well-formed conscience when you insult Me and suffocate conscience by the constant on-slaught of violence which you see, hear and read daily in your world? Oh, do you not believe that My Most Sacred Heart is wounded anew by these acts of violence which kill your conscience, deaden your spiritual reflexes and deprive your soul of My True Light and life?
"Thou shalt not kill." I did not say to you that this act of killing was occasionally all right and permitted, because you had a right to judge and take a life. I Am Life. And I alone give life and call all life back to Me.
It is obvious by My Command that you are forbidden to murder someone out of a willful act. You may not take gun, knife, sword or any other weapon to destroy any one of My children.
But this Command goes far beyond the obvious act of murder which is clearly seen and willfully motivated.
Let each of My Children carefully examine their conscience as I address the other ways in which you kill by thought, word, deed, or omission, which the world may not see, but I see; which the world may judge proper, but I do not!
First, I want all the world to cease the hideous sin, the slaughter, the murder of all the innocent unborn. I say to you from My Throne on High: "Woe, triple woe to all who, knowing My Command, participate in and urge others to participate in the evil sin of abortion." All who, of their own free will commit this act of murder and who, of their own free will remain unrepentant, I shall wipe from My sight into the eternal abyss! At the moment of conception I Who Am infused into the being an immortal soul. This is My child! MINE. How dare you make of yourself god, and destroy any life because you do not want My child! All are precious to Me. All I died for. All I seek to bring to eternal Life, and yet you hate life and seek only to set yourself up as a god whose judgments please Me. I am Judge, not you. This sin of abortion marks well that you are in the End Times. But you must come to Me in prayer and sacri- fice if this evil is to cease. I Command all of My children to cease judgment of all peoples involved in this act, yet knowing the act to be evil, to pray ceaselessly for its end. I Alone can and will bring about its end through the intercession of My Holy Mother's Immaculate Heart! Put aside all violence. This is not My way. Pray and sacrifice, and I shall come to your aid.
Also, little children, guard well your thoughts and tongues. How often, dear children, either through carelessness or even willful desire, you commit an act of murder by killing one of My little children by all manner of evil thought and even more abusive language.
Heed My words. In all things you are to think, speak and act with sublime charity. Charity disposes you to live in holiness, thus recognizing evil and admonishing the evil in a holy, charitable way. Never does holy charity lead you to murder, to kill even one of My little ones by a malicious thought, word or deed! On the contrary, holy charity disposes you to reach out by virtue of My Light, to lead the sinner back to Me in My Infinite, Divine Mercy. By this, My Fifth Command, I tell you that you cannot make one or two attempts to bring a sinner back to the Font of Divine Mercy. No, I solemnly tell you that by this Command you are obliged to do all that is possible for you in your human nature, always seeking the higher, better path of supernatural graces. Armed always with My grace, with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, I admonish you to approach the sinner with My Love and Mercy, and to so love that person that your prayer for him rises ceaselessly to Me on his behalf.
This, My children, is the fullness of My Fifth Commandment! Go to My little ones who live in spiritual darkness and by a holy, upright life seek their bodily and spiritual well-being, trusting Me to set right all that is wrong. I Alone Am Power and Authority. You are My little children through whom I work. Therefore, if you would keep My Fifth Commandment then you must willingly suffer as I suffered, uniting all sorrows, pains and injuries to My Most Sacred Passion so that by My Infinite Merits the soul of the sinner receives My Light, seeks Forgiveness and is saved for all Eternity.
To fully keep My Fifth Command you must learn to love as I Love, to forgive as I Forgive, and to leave all judgment to Me lest you be judged by the Eternal Father!
In these End Times murder is rampant on every continent, and its seeds can invade any heart which is not disposed to live My Gospel. Therefore, My children, be crucified with Me and for Me, and the evil of murder shall cease for the Reign of My Sacred Heart shall come to you in Mercy.
Prepare well, My children. I Come!
End of the 2nd Crusade when the Christian crusaders were forced to retreat outside Damascus.
On this day a son is born to the new Tudor King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward IV. They name him Henry. He would go on to become the monarch of England, be proclaimed "Defender of the Faith" and fall from grace with his divorce to Catherine of Aragon and subsequently was excommunicated. He retaliated by forming the Church of England and becoming an apostate, persecuting Catholics and clergy who refused to join him. He was, of course, the notorious King Henry VIII who turned Catholic England to Protestantism.
Pope Saint Pius X issues his eighth encyclical Pieni l'animo to the bishops and clergy of Italy.