Our Lord says in Mark 8: 36, "For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" But His words fell on too many deaf ears. Without the strong family structure, which had been nourished for so many centuries in so many cultures, culminating with the beautiful Catholic phrase made famous by the esteemed Rosary priest Father Patrick Peyton: "The family that prays together, stays together." Sadly, with the emergence of the "liberated woman" and the "too-busy-to-care man," togetherness went out the window and with it all sensibility. With the family unit in turmoil, it paved the way for lucifer to penetrate both the school system and all religions, including Roman Catholicism. Without the strong unity of parents to promote the right values, the schools - Public and Parochial - were left to try to educate the masses with little help from the home. Too often parents schlepped the responsibility of raising their offspring on ill-equipped day-care providers and the overburdened school systems. In Catholic circles, as vocations dropped and the nuns grew older, parishes had no choice but to begin charging tuition to keep the doors open and to pay the mounting costs of lay faculty, something that had never been done before because of the abundance of religious who asked no salary, only a convent and stipends for their Order. With the emergence of parish councils, priests who were not strong enough to stem the flow of secularism in the Church and schools, were pushed into the background. Liberal liturgists, often ex-priests and ex-nuns with a chip on their shoulder, began coming out of the woodwork as the barriers were relaxed and the Church became a "feel good" place where sin was hush, hush and everyone was saved if they "loved Jesus and loved one another." Even extramarital affairs were looked on by many as a "sign of the times" and "who are we to judge?" Rather than standing up for values, virtues and the commandments, they rationalized their way right into satan's snare.
The entire education system seemed to change overnight. Gone were the history books that gave us a fairly accurate account of the causes and effect that carved out cultures over the years and the pivotal role great leaders and the Church played. In its place were placed mandatory politically correct text books that manufactured what the authors "thought or wanted" to have happened. They severely altered history and forged their own narrow thinking on unsuspecting generations, ripe to learn. And what they learned were lies, without ever really being told the truth. To soldify the position of this curriculum in the schools, liberal leaders introduced a new method, which on the surface looks so clever and inviting - the inculturation of all studies - Integrated CPM curriculum which emphasizes and reflects the topic highlighted that week or month. It was a golden opportunity for educators to brainwash young minds to their way of thinking with little or no opposition. Who would object to a well-rounded education that incorporates all facets of the curriculum with cross-references so the student can see all sides? Normally, no, but when we delve beneath the surface we can see the dangers of this tip of the iceberg - an educational ice block that threatens even further to crush the weak and direct the student in their way of thinking, similarly to the methods used by Adolf Hitler in pre-WWII Germany. Government involvement and regulations - both federal and local have only made it that much harder to separate the chilly soul from this devastating glacier that grows larger and more menacing, feeding off the shivering souls who have surrendered to the way of the world. This same method is being perpetrated not only in our public school systems but in our Catholic schools and parishes where CCD and RCIA programs and other movements direct captive audiences away from the Sacraments and Church Doctrine to a humanistic relativism that places Peace and Justice on a pedestal while shoving the Triune Divinity and all of Heaven to the back, if not totally off the proverbial ledge. What is being taught is pure heresy - that we are Christ. Because they have not been educated to the true teachings, dogmas, doctrines and Traditions of the Church they buy it hook, line and sinker. And sadly so do many of the CCD teachers who were brought up during this thirty-year famine after Vatican II. Like sheep they accept whatever text-books they are given and preach from that without listening to what they are conveying, totally oblivious that heresy reeks from many of the pages. But why would they know when the music ministry blares out hymns such as "The Bread of Life" approved by the North American Liturgical Resources in 1987. The lyrics are most misleading, "I myself am the bread of life, You and I are the bread of life, taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ, that the world might live. This bread is spirit, gift of the Maker's love, and we who share it know that we can be one: a living sign of God in Christ". Then there is the hymn "To be your Bread" with such confusing lyrics as, "To be your bread now, be your wine now, Lord, come and change us to be a sign of your love. Blest and broken, poured and flowing, gift that you gave us, to be your body once again." Whatever happened to Pange Lingua, Tantum Ergo, both composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, or many of the beautiful hymns sung for decades in Catholic churches where all reverence and attention was focused on the Christ present in the Tabernacle?
Is it any wonder research reveals that only one third of the Catholic population truly believes in the True Presence of Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist? Because of this and so many other fallacies, is it any wonder then that vocations continued to drop over the past few decades? Is it any wonder so many have dropped away from the teachings of Holy Mother Church? If they don't know the teachings, how can they adhere to it? Is it any wonder the Church and society as a whole find themselves in a real bind as we near the millennium? The relaxed mores allowed satan to steel in and taint all aspects of society the world over. By deadening the senses and taking away the shock effect, he was able to desensitize the world. Where thirty to forty years ago we would have been scandalized to hear a bad word, or see an illicit sex scene, or see blood spattered all over our screens both in the local multiplex sinemas and in our living rooms on the tube during prime time and local news, today we have become so frigid to God's Will and so numb in conscience that we don't even sense the smoke curling up in our midst: the smoke of satan that threatens to blot out the shining Son! Nothing seems to shock us today and anything goes, as long as it does not involve God. For if it does, then that is infringement on someone else's rights and they have the right to sue to prevent you from publicly expressing your belief in God and the customs that accompany this worship. That is a major reason Catholic-bashing has become so prevalent in the late nineties because, of all the institutions in the world, the one which poses the greatest threat to the world and satan's agenda is the Roman Catholic Church and her leader Pope John Paul II. Is it any wonder then that being a Catholic today takes courage? Is it any wonder the Blessed Mother has been preparing us for these times through her messages imparted over the last two centuries? She knew, through the guidance of the Holy Trinity, what lay ahead. Heaven could smell the smoke long before our finite senses could detect it. There's so much smoke blowing around the world that it's a wonder we're not all choking to death from it. Oh, the press and the propaganda in schools would have us believe that the smoke comes from cigarettes and that those who smoke and those who come in contact with such smoke, are the ones who will "die" of disease. Our Lady has warned us that the real disease is the smoke of lies, scandal, immorality, hatred, bigotry, killing and abuse which runs rampant throughout each city and state in America, and the world in general. There has been enough rhetoric about smoking for it is merely a smokescreen to cover all the other sins! There has been enough rhetoric with endless polls and studies which are debating whether TV, movies, videos and the like influence our children and us. This especially mushrooms anew after another trajedy. Even the atheist or the most hardened soul must admit that violence begets violence, that murder begets murder, that hatred breeds hatred, and so on.
This editor wonders what would happen if we all turned off the media for a full month! That's right; thirty days, and not a moment less. What would happen to the Nielsen ratings? What would happen to subscriptions to the daily rags in your town or ours? What would happen to the revenues for Hollywood, for the video game companies, for radio stations, talk shows, and the like, which perpetuate this violence by their very existence? Oh, there'd be smoke if we all did this. The media would boil over incensed that they were not in control and begin billowing more smoke. Then they would explode with a storm of advertising, sales' pitches, etc., if we turned them off. But if we meant what our actions are meant to convey, we'd ignore this storm and fend off the storm of violence with our own storm of prayer. If we're going to see the Son, if we're going to have the sun to warm our days, then we'd better storm the fire of violence, storm Heaven with prayers, before we, too, succumb to the death of conscience and soul in our own life, our own country, our own communities, our own families. There is smoke which satellites pick up, smoke from forest fires that are rampaging in dry areas where drought is prevalent due to El Nino. This smoke, which darkens the sky and makes the sun appear red, is nothing more than a warning, a symbol of the real danger that lurks in our own back yards...in our own souls! The smoke truly represents dying souls, dying consciences. That is the real danger to our world, and no one seems to think the death of conscience and soul is even worth an obituary in the newspaper. There are no tears shed over such a death, only the death of a mortal body that has died in a blaze of gunfire. There's no one to stand up and say, "Enough!" We must turn ourselves around and storm this fire of lethargy, of indifference, of moral laxness, of total amorality. If we do not turn ourselves around and become firefighters of the spiritual kind, then we are truly lost. To lose God is to lose everything! With the frostbitten soul turning to ice, the only true way to thaw out is by returning to God completely and soon! If not, the only other thaw is a hot one in hell! No wonder Our Lord and Our Lady cry over the cryogenics of the soul!
What a birthday for the Church when heaven sent the Holy Spirit to confirm those that were in the Upper Room. It was the first Confirmation service. And, oh, what a difference it made in the life of the Apostles!
They had proven themselves to be "scaredy-cats" prior to Pentecost. They ran for their lives when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Olives and hid themselves for fear of the Jews even after the reported Resurrection.
In Scripture we read: "Perfect love casts out fear!" And how we can apply that truth to what happened at Pentecost!
Christians know that there are three Persons in the Blessed Trinity, the Father , the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But I am not sure how many Christians know (especially the young people) that the love that exists between the Father and the Son is so great, that THAT "makes" or "is" Who the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit IS the love between the Father and the Son.
Now, if "perfect love casts out fear," then it would follow that those who have the Holy Spirit "poured out" on them will become courageous and bold for the sake of the Kingdom. When the Holy Spirit fills them "to the brim," so to speak, fear is gone. Perfect love (Who the Holy Spirit is) casts out fear.
Many people today are filled with fear. I hear it all the time. There is fear of losing their health, fear of the coming chastisements, fear of where the moral decline of the world is leading, fear of dying. There are many fears out there in many and varied forms.
Then all the more do we need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. Because, as Our Lady of Medjugorje has said: "When you have the Holy Spirit, you have Everything."
This year has been designated by the Holy Father as the year of the HOLY SPIRIT. Our Holy Father wants us to pay particular attention to the Holy Spirit and to pray to the Holy Spirit with special attention and devotion.
In light of all of the above I would like to propose a couple of prayers that I often offer to the Holy Spirit. One is:
Have a Pentecost that is FILLED with the Holy Spirit Who is LOVE and Who casts out ALL fear! May He bless you with all of His gifts!