In this weekend's editorial, we look back on the news of this past week and see there's a new opportunity on the horizon that can bode quite well for loyal Catholics, but we can't be complacent or the opportunity will pass us by: opportunity to vote for the right pro-life candidates and initiatives, and the opportunity to stop the runaway radical rubrics that have permeated so many parishes, liturgical celebrations that in no way resemble the Catholic liturgy that Rome has determined should be the universal rubrics for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With the most recent Symposium in Rome the Holy See is ready to crack down on violators in adhering to the true tenets of Vatican II. In addition, we should rejoice at Israel's release of a diary that completely exonerates Pope Pius XII of the trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism by radicals intent on besmirching his good name. Now we can get on with his beatification process. For this weekend's editorial Let's make it a Mardi Gras to remember: Get out and vote for the Sanctity of Life! , see CATHOLIC PewPOINT
So why did Bush get nailed for this when most other candidates during this campaign and the last two presidential campaigns spoke at this ignominous institution? Could it possibly be that the liberal media is afraid of the Texas governor and want to discredit him as much as possible? That's a very real possibility with their coronation of his opponent John McCain as the Republican "savior" and yet Republicans don't feel the same way and are showing it at the ballot box.
It also points out a sad fact that many, many Catholics are not incensed at the media for carrying on such a double standard. Consider that they constantly promote anti-Catholic bias in their news, editorials and coverage and we have to ask, what's all the fuss? While we personally are voting for Alan Keyes in the California Primary because he represents the only honest, moral candidate out of the entire herd, common sense dictates that Bush needs the Catholic support in the face of the Clinton administration influenced media's campaign to malign him in favor of perpetuating the culture of death agenda with Al Gore. Realistically that is the scenario even though we would love to see Alan Keyes in that equation. But poor Alan hasn't got a prayer even though that is what he emphasizes all Americans need to do: pray. How many believe that were the conservative African American Alan Keyes not a loyal Roman Catholic that he would get the support of the media that is supposed to champion the underdog? How many believe black caucus groups wouldn't flock to this man were it not for his staunch Catholic views? Many have clamored for a black candidate for president and when one finally appears on the scene, one whose credentials and potential are impeccable, he is dismissed. Why? There can be no other reason than his Catholicity. Many thought when John F. Kennedy was elected that was the end of the bias against Catholic candidates. The campaign of Al Smith reached the height of anti-Catholi bias led by Bob Jones' father. Talk about the sins of the father! So here we are today with the Catholics in the eye of the storm once more.
Rather than looking at this as a negative, why not capitalize on it and make the Catholic vote count. Too often in the recent past the Catholic vote has been so split that any kind of Catholic bloc has been meaningless. With the kind of numbers Catholics comprise, we can make a difference if we are united. To underscore this Russel Shaw, who covers Capitol Hill for the Knights of Columbus monthly magazine Columbia points out that in the 1994 presidential election, 57 percent of practicing Catholics voted Republican, while 49 percent voted Democrats, the majority of them not practicing Catholics - mere Catholic in name only. Doesn't that tell you which party true Catholics need to rally behind? This coming Tuesday is both Shrove Tuesday and Super Tuesday when three of the largest states hold their primaries - California, New York and Ohio. We not only look at it as a last chance for Keyes in his noble bid, but an opportunity for Catholics to swell the polls and vote for every pro-life candidate and inititiative possible. We strongly suspect that Keyes will bow out if he doesn't reach double figure percentage in any of the states and, while this is sad because he has stood as the collective conscience of America, never wavering, it will solidify the candidates where Catholics will know who to vote for in November. Outside of Keyes, there is only one man we can morally accept because of his consistent stance for pro-life and the sanctity of marriage. We know it is not Al Gore, Bill Bradley, or John McCain or any of the fractured other parties such as the Reform party or Libertarians' candidate. You make the deduction. At least we will have a clear-cut choice and we must make our voice heard for, as we have said many times in the past, the lives of countless unborn souls depend on it since the new president will have the power to select Supreme Court Justices and Bush has already gone on record as stating he would appoint pro-life judges. Al Gore would do the opposite, thus perpetuating Roe vs. Wade and the demise of millions of more souls. Whatever rhetoric we hear in the politically stained commercials which constantly hit below the belt, we must remember there is only one issue: Life!
One man who was always a proponent of saving lives but has been badly besmirched over the last several years by radical factions was Pope Pius XII. That is why we once again ask if the secular media will give any play to the news we carried yesterday that the Israeli government has released the Diary of the infamous Minister of Death, the head of the S.S. for the Nazis - Adolph Eichmann. In it he writes, without a shadow of a doubt that one of the great enemies of the Third Reich was none other than Pius XII. These sentiments dated back to Pius XII's time as apostolic nuncio to Germany under Pope Pius XI. In fact, many historians corroborate that the latter geared his pontificate to the input passed on by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli who stood up strongly against the growing Nazi threat in the thirties. There are countless other testimonies to Pius XII's defense of the Jews, so evident in his October 29, 1939 encyclical Summi Pontificatus in which he condemned Adolf Hitler and National Socialism. Such publications as the New York Times spoke out strongly for the 260th successor of Peter in the forties. Today that same publication is quick to print defamations against this beleaguered Pontiff. It is nothing new. When Saint Maximillian Mary Kolbe's cause for canonization was being considered in the early eighties, radical Jewish factions condemned this beloved saint who gave his life for a young Jewish husband and father, as being anti-Semitic. If that were the case do you think he would have traded places with the young Semite, knowing he would be going to certain death in the bowels of the Auschwitz gas chamber? Of course not. And just as those charges against this great Polish saint were bogus, so also the charges against Pius XII are trumped up. Hopefully, this latest revelation which is huge in removing all roadblocks for Pacelli's swift approval for beatification, will pave the way for the process to be expedited now with no further interference from those living in the past with a chip on their shoulders. If only the secular media would be ethical enough to publish that on the front page for it is front page news!
Also front page news, which will get even smaller play from many in the liberal Catholic press, were the Holy Father's comments at the close of the International Symposium on the Application of Vatican II in Rome last weekend. Returning from Egypt, the Pope spoke out strongly against the erroneous interpretations of Vatican II which we refer to as the 'spirit of Vatican II' for it is merely a ghost of what was intended through the Holy Spirit of Vatican II. The Holy Father reiterated strick adherance to the true tenets set down by the Council Fathers through the Conciliar and Post-Consiliar documents that have not only been misinterpreted by modernists, but largely ignored. That is about to change as the Bishop of Rome reaffirmed the authenticity of the Second Vatican Council and its intent to complement and strengthen traditions and everything that went before it in the Church. As the Pope said, "to read the Council assuming that it supposes a rupture with the past, when in reality it is aligned with the everlasting faith, is clearly erroneous." If you are like most American Catholics who see a growing protestant influence in our liturgy and a watering down of doctrine, you'll see the implementation in America, for the most part, has not followed Vatican II, contrary to what parish administrators would want you to believe as they forge through more travesties creating the "abomination of the desolation" (cf. Matthew 24: 15) of the temple.
What does this all mean? Hopefully we see it as the beginning death knell for dissident factions like Call to Action, We are church, Catholics for a free choice, and that ilk for the Church is now putting tremendous, undeniable force into a program that will eventually eradicate the confusion and ambiguity of what it means to be a true, practicing Catholic and return reverence and truth to the teachings and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church in America and throughout the world. Just as satan puts up strong resistance when his ramparts are threatened, so also the liberals will fight back. They will most probably resist by attacking and dealing the intolerance card, crying that "the Church is being too harsh and will turn more Catholics away." We're here to tell them that the only Catholics that will turn away are those who weren't truly Catholic in the first place for being Catholic consists of obedience to Rome and without that obedience, there is only one thing we can call those misguided citizens who comprise Call to Action and the other liberal, modernist groups: Protestant.
In light of this latest symposium and the Pope's strong words along with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's follow-through enforcement as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in defense of the Faith, we suspect the United States Bishops Conference later this fall will have tremendous repercussions on the liberal movement and, with a quorum of orthodox, conservative bishops growing, we hope and pray they will fully endorse the tenets of Vatican II in returning the Novus Ordo to the reverence and authenticity necessary as well as returning the Tabernacle of the Holy of Holies to its rightful place in the sanctuary plus curtailing much of the progressive liturgical celebrations that are hardly recognizable as "traditions of the past." It's up to the bishops to implement this.
Some bishops were surprised by John Paul II's appointment of Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap. as the new Archbishop of New York, succeeding Cardinal John J. O'Connor who was forced to stay on for five years longer than he had wanted because of the tremendous positive impact he has had in New York City and on the Church in America. Like his appointment of fellow Capuchin Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in Denver and Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI for Chicago, the Holy Father continued his trend of pulling someone of impeccable character out of relative anonymity. It's worked great in the mile high city and the windy city where the conservative former bishop of Portland has ably replaced the more liberal late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. We are confident Bishop O'Malley will be a great fit in the big apple, carrying on the same philosophy of his predecessor and well equipped both in his relative youth at only 55 and his command of many languages, so important in this metropolitian area renowned for its ethnic backgrounds that are the backbone of this strong, proud city.
While we would like to see all good news, the mounting problems in Africa, especially Nigeria, Sudan and poor Mozambique, and the insidious gay agenda in Britain prove that that utopian ideology doesn't work. But in balance the Holy Father's successful pilgrimage to Egypt to complete the Pentateuch path of his "Jubilee Journey" in retracing Salvation History and the ensuing events leading up to Lent have been encouraging. It all points to prayerful optimism in gaining momentum for Lent in hopes that, through our prayers, actions, and sacrifices we can help multiply the food of truth throughout the country and world and fulfill the hunger so many have for Christ and His Gospel - the Gospel of Life as He states in John 10: 10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." Praise God and pass the loaves and fishes and let's make it a Mardi Gras to remember: Get out and vote for the Sanctity of Life!
Today we bring you a special edition of the VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS with the Holy Father's weekly message from his Papal Audience this past Wednesday in which he spoke of the "culminating" point of his trip to Egypt, reflecting on the spiritual "high" of his time on Mount Sinai and in looking ahead to a visit to another mountain - the Mount of Beatitudes in the Holy Land which he will undertake in three weeks. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. With great joy I was able to go on a pilgrimage last week to Egypt, in the footsteps of Moses. This extraordinary experience culminated with the stop at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Holy Mountain: holy because in it God was revealed to his servant Moses and made manifest his Name to Moses; holy, moreover, because there God gave to his people the gift of the Law, the Ten Commandments; holy, finally, because the constant presence there of believers made Mount Sinai a place of prayer.
I am grateful to God for His having allowed me to stop in prayer in the place where He introduced Moses to a more clear understanding of his mystery, speaking to him from the Burning Bush, and where he offered to Moses and the chosen people the Law of the Covenant, that is, the law of life and of freedom for everyone. God made himself the foundation and guarantee of this covenant.
2. As I mentioned last Saturday, the Ten Commandments open before us the only authentically human future, because they are not the arbitrary imposition of a tyrannical God. Yahweh wrote them in stone, but he inscribed them above all in the human heart as the universal moral law, valid and current in every place and time. This law prevents egotism and hatred, lying and contempt, which destroy the human person. The Ten Commandments, with their constant recalling of the divine Covenant, show that the Lord is our only God, and that every other divinity is false and ends up reducing the human being to slavery, making him degrade his own human dignity.
"Hear, O Israel... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children..." (Dt 6:4-7). These words, which the pious Hebrew repeats daily, also resounds in the heart of every Christian. "Listen! Fix these precepts in your heart!" We cannot think of being faithful to God without observing his Law. Besides, to be faithful to God is to be faithful to ourselves, to our profound and unsupressible aspirations.
3. I am grateful to Archbishop Damianos, Ecumenicos of St. Catherinešs Monastery, and to his monks for the great cordiality with which they welcomed me. The Archbishop, who met me at the entrance of the Monastery, showed me the precious "Biblical relics" kept there, such as Jethro's Well, and above all the roots of the "Burning Bush," next to which I knelt, thinking over the words with which God revealed the mystery of his being to Moses: "I am who am." I was also able to admire the stupendous works of art there, which flourished in the course of centuries of monastic contemplation and prayer.
Before the celebration of the Word, Archbishop Damianos recalled that, right above us rose Mount Horeb, with the summit of Sinai, the mountaintop of the Decalogue, in which "in fire and obscurity" God spoke to Moses. For centuries in this context a monastic community pursued the ideal of Christian perfection in "a constant compulsion of nature and an indefatigable control of the senses," availing itself of the traditional means of spiritual dialogue and ascetic practice. At the end of this meeting, the Archbishop and some of his monks kindly accompanied me to the airport.
4. I willingly take this opportunity to once again express my thanks to Present Mubarak, to the Egyptian authorities and to those who contributed to the realization of my trip. Egypt is the cradle of a very ancient civilization. The Christian faith has been there since the time of the apostles, especially with St. Mark, disciple of Peter and Paul and founder of the Church in Alexandria.
During the pilgrimage I met with His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and with Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, Great Sheik of Al-Azhar and religious head of the Muslim community. To them I express my gratitude, which extends also to His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholics, and to the other Archbishops and Bishops present.
Renewing my salutations to the small but fervent Catholic community that I met during the solemn celebration of the Holy Mass in Cairo, in which all the Catholic churches of Egypt participated: the Coptics, the Latins, the Maronites, the Greeks, the Armenians, the Syriacs, and the Chaldeans. Within the Lord's Supper we celebrated our common faith and appealed to God the enthusiasm of life and of apostolate of our Egyptian brothers and sisters, who with many sacrifices and much generosity witnessed to their faithful adherence to the Gospel in the country in which the Holy Family took refuge two thousand years ago.
I retain a grateful memory of that significant meeting with representatives and faithful of the Churches and non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities present in Egypt. The ecumenical progress that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, was made during the twentieth century can enjoy further developments which bring us ever closer to the goal of full unity, for which the Lord Jesus ardently prayed.
5. Today, Mount Sinai makes me think of another mount which, God willing, I will have the joy to visit at the end of this month: the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the Old Law, but to perfect it (cf Mt 5:17). In fact, from the time the Word of God took flesh and died on the cross for us, we hear the Ten Commandments through his voice. Jesus makes the Ten Commandments take root in the hearts of those who believe in Him by means of the new life of grace. However, Jesus' disciples did not feel oppressed by a multitude of prescriptions, but, compelled by the force of love, they recognized God's Commandments as a law of freedom: freedom to love, thanks to the interior action of the Spirit.
The Beatitudes constitute the evangelical completion of the Law of Sinai. The Covenant, drawn up with the Hebrew people, found its perfection in the new and eternal Covenant ratified in the blood of Christ. Christ is the New Law, and in Him salvation is offered to all people.
To Christ Jesus I entrust the next stop of my jubilee pilgrimage: the Holy Land. I ask you all to accompany me with prayer in preparation, especially spiritual, for this important event.
In her column this week, Sister Mary Lucy Astuto sets her sights on Lent and shares with the readers ways we can all make this a meaningful 40 days of fasting and prayer. She emphasizes that the greatest offering we can give is by daily participation in the greatest of prayers - the greatest offering we can give - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She also points out that we can make it a grace-filled, fruitful Lent by doing whatever we do to the best of our ability in small ways in patterning our behavior after the ideal example of humility and simplicity - Saint Therese of the Child Jesus who was known for doing the ordinary in an extraordinary way, something we can all strive to do For her column, Doing everyday duties well see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Attending Mass more frequently is the greatest act of worship. It is wonderful to see an increased number of Catholics going to daily Mass during Lent. This includes business people who use part of their lunch hour to attend Mass.
Other suggestions may include: daily rosary individually or as a family; praying before Our Eucharistic Lord on hour a week; making the Stations of the Cross every day or at least once a week; daily spiritual reading that leads us to talk to God from our hearts; going to confession every couple of weeks; meditating on Our Lord's Passion for 10 - 15 minutes a day; studying Scripture with family, friends and neighbors.
Almsgiving can certainly include: working at a local shelter to help feed or clothe the poor; donating monetarily to charitable causes; donating blood to the Red Cross; visiting those who are sick or elderly; spending time with someone who is hurting through the loss of a child or spouse; giving some of your clothes to the poor.
When we think of doing penance for Lent, the usual comes to mind, i.e., giving up candy, gum, and movies. Other ideas may include: giving up smoking, drinking, watching television, deserts; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; being prompt for appointments; doing our work with extra attention; cleaning out the garage or attic; giving more of your time by becoming more active in the pro-life movement. It has been said that one of the best things we can give others is our time.
When Our Lady of Fatima appeared in Portugal in 1917 and asked for prayers and penance, one of her suggestions was that we do our daily duties well. Doing everything we do during the day as we should do them, can be a great penance. Getting up on time; not wasting time; being patient with the kids (and spouse); keeping the house neat and clean; not gossiping; ceasing to be an enabler; being courteous in traffic; holding a door for a person following you; praying before and after meals; being pleasant when one doesn't feel like it. (The latter, by the way, is not being a hypocrite. It is acting as a Christian should.)
In reality, we can become great saints simply by doing our ordinary daily duties well. This is the whole spiritual message of St. Therese, the Little Flower. This was her "Little Way."
I hope I've been able to give you some food for thought, dear reader. Certainly, all possibilities are not exhausted here, but perhaps this article has given you a few ideas. It is time to begin thinking about how we shall make this Lent a truly "Catholic" one.
You are in my heart and prayers. I ask to be in yours, as well.
God bless you!