The line has been drawn in the sand, so to speak, and it is time for all those loyal to Jesus Christ to cross over and stand solidly with the Pope. Naturally the dissenters are up in arms, decrying this as total censorship and a means for conservative scholars at Catholic universities to rid the liberal, dissenting professors. Well why not? It seems that modernist theologians have been so entrenched by tenure that nothing has been able to prevent them from spewing their heresies. Now, with this Profession of Faith they must take the oath and must preach the truth. Any dissenting from this truth and the pink slip is theirs, not just at the Catholic University they may represent, but in the Church as well. For the Vicar of Christ's latest decree, explained further by Cardinal Joseph Ratsinger states without a doubt that any dissent of these truths and the dissenter could be excommunicated for if they reject established Catholic doctrine then they are "no longer in full communion with the Catholic Church." It's about time. For the last thirty some years too many have masqueraded as Catholics when, in truth, they were really espousing the Protestant line. Now is the time of weeding as the harvest has come. Now is the time to separate the wheat from the chaff and throw the chaff out lest the weeds and cockles would choke out the good fruits. They have been trying, but the Holy Father's sickle of demanding obedience has cut a mighty swath in the path of these who would continue to infect the good wheat.
Many of the dissenters claim the Holy Father's tactics are intended to stifle conversation and dialogue. Well, has anyone told them the Church is not a democracy? This weekend we celebrate our 222nd birthday as a nation - the anniversary of the founding of this country which, in truth is a republic, not a democracy. In the issue of "free speech" we all, as God-fearing Christians, have an obligation to speak out but not when it is a direct dichotomy of what God has decreed either in Public Revelation or through His Church. But over the years this "free speech" syndrome has digressed to where everybody thinks they have to have a say and look what we're stuck with today: the ammoral Clinton administration! Today it's politically correct to "have a say," but the Church is not and never has been guided by political correctness. Had she been led to follow finite whims we doubt Holy Mother Church would have escaped the thirteenth century when political intrigue and graft permeated the Papal States. No, the Church is guided by a Higher Power and we all know where and Who that rests with!!!
This weekend is the time when everyone proudly sports the red, white and blue of our country. But loyal Catholics can be gratified in knowing that, with the Pope's pronouncement of these enforcements that are now incorporated into Canon Law, we don't have to worry about all the shades of gray that muddied up the picture and confused so many. Once again we can return to the two distinctive colors of black and white! We can take comfort in realizing that the pendulum is swinging back to a time when the Church spelled everything out and no one could confuse the difference between right and wrong. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church released in 1994 was the first step, now the Holy See has turned the screws on theologians and others who would forge their own agenda in the name of Catholic teaching. The great bugaboo "follow your conscience" over-rode the sensible and the wisdom of centuries for the last thirty years plus by rationalizing away sin and the graces we can merit from the Sacraments, good works, and prayer. Now, finally they won't be able to hoodwink us any longer. If they do, wave sayonara! You just know the modernists, liberals, feminists, new agers and lukewarm souls will not go quietly. Their kind never do. They'll mount an all-out assault on the Pope and those loyal to him and, in fulfillment of Our Lady's prophecies, the schism will be exposed in full force. It's been hiding in the weeds for too long. Now, with the cutting down of these strangling roots, there'll be no place to hide. And you can better believe as everything is spelled out in black and white, we may very well be wearing other colors as well, such as black and blue from the persecution and tirades leveled against those loyal to the Holy Father. He, along with the many of Mary's faithful remnant, are going through a martyrdom of persecution and the Catholic bashing is about to intensify. Soon most of us will experience the slings and arrows of human hate retaliating because we follow a Higher Authority. But that is the price of Dependence on God that makes it possible to celebrate our independence this weekend. So enjoy the fireworks shows this weekend before the real fireworks begin!
When Bridget was 12 years-old, Our Lady first appeared to her and shortly after that, at the tender age of 14, she was married to 18 year-old Ulf Gudmarsson and the couple proceeded to have eight children, one of whom was a saint herself - Saint Karin. About the time Bridget was 33 she was asked by King Magnus II to serve as the lady-in-waiting to Magnus' young queen Blanche of Namur. Though the worldly trappings of royalty were a temptation for Bridget, rather than weakening, she was strengthened and strove relentlessly to convince the royal couple to cut back on their luxury and give more to the poor. Discouraged by their excesses, Our Lady comforted Bridget by appearing to her interiorly and imparting private messages to the Swedish saint. It was after the death of her youngest son Gudmar that she and Ulf decided to travel to Santiago de Compostela. Just as many have experienced tremendous conversion experiences at Medjugorje, so also Bridget and Ulf realized from that point on they would spend the remainder of their lives in monasteries, even though they were not members of a religious community. In 1344 Ulf died at the age of 45 in a Cistercian monastery. As a widow Bridget withdrew into deeper prayer and asceticism. Her visions and private revelations grew stronger and more often and she consulted a Cistercian monk to be her spiritual director and help her discern if these were truly of God. He reassured her and was so impressed he wrote the messages down in Latin. Prompted by Our Lady and aided by the resources of Magnus II, she founded a religious order of Bridgettines and a monastery for the Institute of the Most Holy Savior. Shortly thereafter she made a pilgrimage to Rome. Little did she know when she made that trip in 1350 that she would never set foot again on her beloved homeland soil of Sweden. But when God closes one door, He always opens another wider. Such was the case for Bridget who for the next 23 years would play a vital role in the papacy and give to the world the 21 Promises and 15 Prayers of St. Bridget Jesus conveyed to her while she was at prayer in the Church of St. Paul at Rome below the Crucifix. This same crucifix can be seen today above the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Paul's-outside-the-walls in Rome.
The Promises and 15 Prayers are contained in the inspirational "Pieta Prayer Booklet" available by calling (616) 731-4490. The 15 Prayers, along with a corresponding 15 Our Father's and 15 Hail Mary's said for an entire year compose the total number (5,480) of blows to the body that Jesus was dealt during His Passion as He confirmed to Bridget. These prayers honor His Wounds.
Like her counterpart, mystic and Doctor of the Church Saint Catherine of Siena, Bridget was influential in tirelessly working to bring the pope out of exile in Avignon and back to the See of Rome. Like she had advised the King and Queen of Sweden, she also pulled no punches in denouncing the debauchery and greed of the noble ruling class in Naples and Cyprus. God had given her both the gifts of prophecy and fortitude to fulfill His Will and He lovingly called her home on July 23, 1373. Her casket carried triumphantly back to the monastery near Vadstena in Sweden where she was buried. She was quickly referred by all her countrymen as the "Patroness of Sweden." Eighteen years later Pope Boniface IX canonized her.
Our Blessed Mother appeared two more recorded places during the 14th Century. One apparition was to Pope John XXII in 1322 when Our Lady appeared to the pontiff and bestowed the Sabbatine Privilege of the Brown Scapular in Rome. The Pope issued a bull stating that whoever wore the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites would be delivered by Our Lady out of Purgatory on the Saturday after their death. This was later amended by Pope Paul V in 1613 to say that one must have been in the state of grace and worn the Scapular and that it was a "pious belief" that Mary would be especially propitious to those who have worn the Brown Scapular given to Saint Simon Stock. Our Lady reappeared in Russia for the second time in less than a century, this time at Pochaiv in the Ukraine in 1340 where an Icon of Our Lady became the source for multiple miraculous healings.
During the 14th and 15th centuries two other saints are said to have had apparitions of Our Lady. One was Dutch-born Saint Lidwina in Schiedam, Holland in 1413. Very little is known about these apparitions. The other is Saint Frances of Rome. Born in 1384, Frances' life paralleled St. Bridget's in that she was married at an early age, had several children, and her husband and offspring died before her. In fact her husband Lorenzo Ponziani had been commander of the papal guard and he was paralyzed fighting against General Ladislaus of Naples who captured the anti-pope John XXIII. Two of her children died from the plague and Frances nursed her husband throughout his ordeal while still attending to the poor and needy of Rome. To better care for all and to provide almshouses, she founded the Olivetan Oblates of Santa Maria Nuova. This, some sources say was inspired by visions of Our Lady to Frances. When her husband died in 1436, Frances entered the religious order of Oblates she had founded. There God bestowed numerous extraordinary mystical gifts on her. On March 9, 1440 while reciting the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady appeared to alert Frances that God was calling her home after a life well-lived in His service. She was canonized in 1608 by Pope Paul V who renamed the church of Santa Maria Nuova the Church of St. Frances of Rome. He also cited her prayers and sufferings as instrumental in ending the Western Schism and bringing the papacy back to Rome after a long exile in Avignon.
The rest of the 15th Century was fairly quiet apparition-wise as the Mother of God concentrated only on a few sites in Europe. Two in Italy: In Caravaggio she appeared to visionary Gianetta di Pietro Vacchi in 1432 promising Peace; eight years later in Bologna many of the villagers reported seeing Our Lady hovering above the rooftops. The Blessed Virgin appeared as Notre Dame de Grace in Aderlecht, Belgium in 1449 and 42 years later in 1491 at Alsace to visionary Dieter Schore of whom hardly anything is known.
Much is known, however, of what happened the next year. An Italian explorer with a great devotion to Our Lady set sail under the banner of Spain for a new world. The rest, as we know, is history - the history of the western hemisphere and, in particular, our own country which is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It was in the 16th century when Our Blessed Mother would make her first appearance in the new world to a poor Indian. That apparition would forever change the face of civilization in the new world. In the next issue we will detail that century and the wondrous miracles at Guadalupe.
TOMORROW: The 16th century: a method to her messages
I like to celebrate. I donít care for the loud firecrackers, however, right outside the door, but I like to watch the beautiful fireworks display that always takes place at Rosenblatt Stadium here in Omaha, which is less than a mile from where I live. If I climb to the second floor, I can see the display ...free! They are beautiful and seem to get better every year.
As I ponder why we celebrate our "Independence," I canít help but to think that I (we) are really very DEPENDENT. There are people, Iím sure, that walk around feeling pretty good about themselves and thinking so highly of themselves like they donít need anybody to help them in life. They can take care of their own problems! Well, what I think about that is: Just wait till life knocks you around a bit, just wait until some years pass by as life knocks you around. Itís called "maturing" or growing "wiser."
With time one will soon enough learn how utterly we are not in "control" of everything in our lives.
I donít think I have ever been more dependent in my life than what I am right now. I mean I feel so utterly, completely dependent. Not on human beings, but on God. I really feel like I cannot do anything unless God enables me. At this time in my life, I must pray for the strength, the ability, the grace to do many things, even writing this article (which I always ask the Holy Spirit to help me with anyhow).
I sometimes wonder if God is permitting me to "feel" this way in order to somehow make reparation for the pride of others - the pride that says: "I donít need God or His Laws! I can handle my own life."
If that is the purpose why God is permitting me to experience my utter inabilities, itís OK. Psychology may try to explain my situation in some crazy way, but I prefer to look for a spiritual explanation. Psychology is so human-centered today, anyhow, that too often it leaves God totally out of the picture. A very dangerous state, if one is looking for TRUTH.
I think my feeling totally dependent on God is a grace! I thank God for it.
So while people celebrate Independence Day, I am going to celebrate DEPENDENCE DAY - dependence on God because only He can supply my needs anyhow -- from the deepest to the most superficial ones.
A child is dependent. Iíd like to be a child in the arms of my Heavenly Father. I want to go to Him for everything. Thereís room for you here! Our Fatherís arms can hold all of His children. Reach up for Him. Heíll pick you up and you could never be in a better place.
Happy Independence and Dependence Day! Be safe! In the arms of our Father!
God bless you!