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MONDAY

March 23, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 58



And the Winner is...

     Tonight is, of course, the Academy Awards...not a religious event by any means, but we use that theme today to bring home the points of today's issue. We begin with something all Catholics need who live in the world today - something practical - and that is a guide to one of America's favorite year-round pasttimes - going to the movies or watching them on TV or video. Catholics are no exception. To help all Catholics, we present the site sponsored by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops on Film and Broadcasting Reviews as our recipient this week of the Golden Chalice Award. As part of our review, we include the reviews of the five films up for best picture of the year. For the review The Catholic's Siskel and Ebert: the NCCB Film & Broadcasting Reviews, click on SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK

SIGNIFICANT SITE OF THE WEEK:

The Catholic's Siskel and Ebert: the NCCB Film & Broadcasting Reviews

     

     In commemoration of the Academy Awards tonight, and mostly because only hermits are immune from the movie scene in America today, we bring you the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Film and Broadcasting Page which is simple but helpful in reviewing both first-run movies and those recent ones released on Video Tape at your local Blockbuster. These reviews are much more lenient than the since-abandoned stricter Catholic League of Decency which rated movies either A, B, C or F which was X-rated and objectionable to all. Of course the rating system has changed over the years and the next best thing we have are the categories and reviews compiled by NCCB. They are succinct in giving you the basic plot and highlighting whatever is objectionable so this is very helpful when planning on spending hard-earned dollars to take the family or a friend to the local theater or rent a movie for the evening. The site loads super fast and you just scroll down the alphabetical list for the review of the movie of your choice. There is a comprehensive list of first run movies and a separate list of video releases. In addition, they keep you up-to-date with a weekly review of the latest films so you can stay on top of what to see and what to skip. It is helpful for all parents and kids should take a look-see as well...if they know what's good for them...because the NCCB has determined what is good, and what is bad, including the really bad and why!

     Therefore, because of the timeliness and uniqueness of this site and the need for it, we award the "Golden Chalice Award" and confer FOUR Hail Mary's to this site, and, in keeping with the traditions of the Oscars, bring you the reviews below of the top five movies up for best picture. With these reviews you can decide which one is really the best, though everyone of them the board found something objectionable, so beware.

     One will notice that when the reviews begin with the words "Because of..." it means there is something objectionable that prevents a total endorsement of the film and the Bishops' film review board will point out the objections. When you read all the reviews you will probably come to the conclusion that very few are worth seeing. But if you disagree, at least read the review before you go. The subliminal influence of Hollywood can be dangerous.


TiTansi

     The epic everyone is expecting to sweep the awards is TITANIC but our editorial A One-Way Ticket to the Titanic! deals with the dangers of those in America who are on a collision course and sure to sink if they fight Rome's reasons for preserving the priesthood, for advocating sending foreign missionaries to America to help the sinking USA Catholic ship. One of those foreign priests Father Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi was beatified yesterday in Onitsha in southern Nigeria by Pope John Paul II who extolled his virtues and called for more vocations in this booming Catholic country. Click on today's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

A One-Way Ticket on the Titanic!

     President Ronald Reagan was in the early years of his first term the last time Pope John Paul II ventured into Nigeria where the true faith was struggling. Now, sixteen years later Catholicism is booming in this west African country, and the man who sits in the oval office is the total opposite of the morals and values Reagan promoted. The scales have tilted to the dark continent for the darkness of the soul has permeated America. Today the Holy Father wraps up a three day visit to Nigeria before winging back to Rome. Yesterday, before teeming throngs of faithful in 95 degree sweltering equator-like conditions, he beatified Nigeria's first son - Father Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi, a native missionary who became a Cistercian and lived out his life in the Abbey of Mount Saint Bernard in Leichestershire, England. Though he had wanted to return to his native land to establish an abbey, it was not to be and Blessed Tansi died of thrombosis in the cold British winter of January 1964 without ever setting foot on African soil again. It is a fitting occasion for the Holy Father to beatify this man during the mid-point of Lent for Blessed Tansi stressed penance and sacrifice as the man who he baptized 1940, Father Hillary Anisiobi, a pastor in Aguleri, Nigeria, remarked, "He lived a very ascetic life. He insisted on chastity. He kept on hammering that, mortifying the flesh and so forth."

     On hand for these special ceremonies was Fr. Tansi's own brother Godwin Nneke, an 89-year old farmer from Igboezunu, Nigeria. Though English is Nigeria's official language, Godwin never attended school, devoting his life to working in the fields, and thus knows no English. But his smile as the Holy Father pronounced the beatification of his brother spoke volumes in any language. The custom among the poorer families in the times Godwin and Michael were growing up were that only one son would be allowed to receive a formal education, while the rest remained toiling and planting. Their mother had been martyred, being forced to consume poison on the false charges of being a witch. The deeply grieved Michael, who had been awarded the education, made the most of it, and entered the seminary in atonement for the wrong done his mother, while Godwin accepted all as God's will and remained faithful to his vocation as well - to work by the sweat of his brow and help raise the rest of the family his entire life. But Michael is the one being recognized, chiefly on account of miracles attributed to him after his death. This, of course, is necessary in the process of canonization and the case for Fr. Tansi was made in 1986 when his remains were exhumed in England and returned in the coffin to his native land. One woman, Philomena Nnana who is now 29 recalls that she had terminal cancer and not expected to live. Her last request was to touch Fr. Tansi's casket. As she reached out she says "it was like a bag of cement on my stomach melted. Everything disappeared and I felt well again." Indeed, she was totally healed to the astonishment and delight of all. Today she is alive and well because of the intercession of Blessed Tansi, who gave everything he had to his people, strolling miles on end through villages to administer the sacraments and minister to his people. Yet he had always wanted to be a contemplative and, since there were no monasteries in Nigeria, the Strict Observance of the Cistercians beckoned. and in 1950, he answered the call.

     Now nearly half a century later there are many Fr. Tansis who are ready to answer the call to come to America, where priest-shortage is at the crisis point. Cardinal Francis George, OMI of Chicago has offered the solution of importing foreign priests to answer this decline in the States. He likens it to the earlier days of the Church in America when Irish, Polish, German and Eastern European priests all migrated to America to serve the needs of the varied cultures of American cities, such as Chicago, New York, etc. For years growing up we would spend Lent collecting pennies and spare change to adopt pagan babies overseas, we would marvel at the stories told by missionaries to these foreign missions and do all in our power to pray for them and collect Rosaries, holy cards, etc. for them to take back with them. Those were the days when America supplied the bulk of the missionaries to Africa, South America and Eastern Europe as well as other countries. But times have changed, the well has run dry in the west, while on the other side of the Atlantic, particularly in Africa and Poland vocations are thriving. In Africa alone there is such an abundance of seminarians and young priests that they cannot find work for them. We have had more than a few letters over the years from young African priests who were looking for work in America, but so often, Diocesan officials would nix the idea.

     While the Diocese of Dallas is fairly conservative, the editor of their house organ, the Texas Catholic is quite liberal in scope. The executive editor Bronson L. Havard, who this editor has taken to task more than a few times, wrote a few months ago on the subject of importing foreign priests: "Already, in several places, bishops are importing priests to solve their shortage problem. Archbishop George, however, threatened to set off a stampede." His tone indicates the good Cardinal is running amok, out of control; whereas Havard praises the accomplishments of George's predecessor Cardinal Joseph Bernardin whom the modernists have held up for canonization. Havard's rationale holds no spirituality when he says, "Today, the situation is dramatically different. American Catholics are largely well educated and have moved into the mainstream of society. A priest from a developing nation often comes to America without skills and experience to handle our language, materialism, secularism, feminism and even democracy. Even the best educated Polish priest will find American Catholic families are far from the tightly knit families of his homeland and are often not recognizable as staunchly denominational in their outlook. Also, today American Catholics appear intolerant of priests who are autocratic in dealing with lay persons. Even some of our homegrown priests are having difficulties with this country's complex problems."

     Reading between the lines you can see what he's getting at; he's taking a clever poke, as liberals are wont to do, at the Pope - "the best educated Polish priest" and telling him and the rest of those "foreigners" that "if you're not in the mainstream of American culture and politics, you don't stand a chance and we're not giving you a chance." Did you notice that, nowhere in his diatribe on why foreign priests won't fit, was there any mention of Church teaching, doctrine, traditions or spirituality? Again, that's the agenda of so many liberals and those who believe their agenda is more important than Rome's. Oh, they'll follow the Holy Father as long as it fits their idea of Church; when it conflicts with their agenda they'll hide behind the "obedience clause" by extolling a member of the Magisterium such as Bernardin while ignoring what the Vicar of Christ has said. And that "best educated Polish priest" who went on to become the 264th successor of Peter and possibly one of the greatest and most influential pontiffs ever, has more than on a few occasions encouraged the exchange of values - pleading for the "have countries" to help the "have nots" in time, talent and treasures. He has requested America help third world countries with material matters and third world countries help America with spiritual matters. Wise counsel that presents a win-win situation for all.

      Though many sees have set up new Ordination and Review boards, foreign priests are often rejected. Why? Many point to the fact that the education standards in Africa are far below the ideals of America. Oh, really? Maybe scholastically, but spiritually they're higher. But they use the trite excuse that today American Catholics are no longer the "blue-collar obedient types" who grew up in the thirties, forties and fifties in cultural communities, but much more educated and not as tightly-knit as their ancestors. The foreign priests would be lost in dealing with the complex social issues in America today and wouldn't "fit in" or "relate to Americans." Please! Give us a break! Talk about small minded, talk about condoning what is happening in our culture today, talk about caving in to modernism, talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth and turning away! All of this is what they are doing by rejecting Cardinal George's wise discernment of the vocation problem in America. What's wrong with more Fr. Tansi types here in the States? What's wrong with more Cure d'Ars type priests in America. Father John Vianney was not educated, was not as "up" on the social issues of France as his parishioners; in fact he disdained these mores the people held. Rather than condone and compromise the sinful lifestyle most of his parishioners led for the "sake of unity" or to keep the coffers full, he did what was right. He spoke from his heart and he spoke God's truth. Maybe at first no one wanted to hear it, but as time went on and prayer took effect, the fruits manifested themselves through this holy saint and the entire parish converted to God's Will, not man's will. That is the problem with the roadblock preventing foreign priests to come to America as missionaries to the lost here, the decision makers don't want to "rock the boat," they don't want to have to conform to "God's Will" for they are in their comfort zone of man's will. By bringing untainted foreign priests in who hold spirituality above intellectualism, they realize they would have to make changes. Though they would definitely be changes for the better, they are changes that would deprive the "roadblockers" of the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to. God forbid someone would come in and stress the sacraments, prayer, fasting and what Jesus and His Blessed Mother want!

     But many in America are resisting, from the president down to the Catholic parishioner who is so misguided by those steering them right toward that iceberg of schism. Just like that fateful voyage the Titanic took in the Spring of 1912, when Michael Tansi was but a mere nine years old, the American Catholic Church is on a collision course, oblivious to their claims of invincibility, their stubborn resistance to adhere to what Rome asks, their insistance that they are right and they are unsinkable in their resolve to convince all that we won't need "lifeboats." The lifeboats are needed. The lifeboats in the mold of more Fr. Tansi's, Fr. Vianney's and others of that caliber can help assure all Catholics that they will make it through the perilous seas of materialism, modernism, and American morals today and reach the shores of salvation. The perks of importing more foreign priests will also reap rewards in renewed vocations in America, something sorely lacking today. It is a fact that the return to reverence and spirituality is a must for the Church to survive in America, and, right now, with most of the good priests dying off or growing older and seminaries quite barren here in the States, only the humble, sincere, dedicated and untainted men of Holy Orders from foreign countries, who are considered by the elite to be "steerage," can provide stabilization to a Church in the throes of tilting. Not to give them safe passage is akin to a one-way ticket on the Titanic!

Michael Cain, editor

O.L. Confidential

     In Our Lady's meditation from Lesson 8 THE TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN, she confides in us what she felt as her Divine Son underwent the most vial of trials and warns us to be prepared, and gives us pointers on how to prepare to fend off the ravages of satan in Our Lady's Confidential to her children. These meditative lessons, imparted by Our Lady to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart during Lent of 1993, are meant to inspire and prompt a greater understanding of the season of Lent in helping us all prepare for His Passion and Death, and ultimately the glorious Resurrection. These lessons help us realize that we, too, must suffer with Mary and Jesus in reparation for the countless souls who mock Him. Click on "IT IS CONSUMMATED!"

Meditative Lesson 8:

THE TRIAL OF THE SANHEDRIN

part three Our Lady's Meditation

      O! My Little Ones. Behold my Divine Son so meek and humble of heart. How the sight of Caiphas, already a rotting corpse, disgusted His purity. Yet my Divine Son, even during this unjust mockery of a trial, looked at the High Priest and there radiated from His holy eyes only love, mercy and forgiveness.

      Caiphas, Annas and the many assembled had only to open their hearts to truly "see," and they would have been forgiven for repentance would have overcome them.

      My Little Ones, look upon this scene and meditate how cleverly the evil one and all his demons propel you by your weak will to great sin, and blind you to Him Who is mercy and forgiveness.

      Meditate, my Little Ones, upon your own human reaction when anyone speaks against you in the slightest way. You instantly begin to speak, to defend yourself. And your defense is based solely upon pride, which is of satan. To defend yourself and prove yourself just and upright, you speak every ill of your fellow-man, and as anger and pride join forces, your defense becomes the same buffetings, spittle and abuse given my Divine Son.

      Look upon Jesus Who as God had all the power. Caiphas, the Sanhedrin possessed nothing more than pride. He, my Divine Son, by a single glance, a thought could have halted all of their transgressions.

      But He remained the meek Lamb in obedience to His Father’s Will so that in all future generations mankind might learn that in order to halt pride, to stop anger and to advance in holiness one must speak very little but pray much.

      Dear children, throughout all of His Passion, which truly began at the moment of His Incarnation, my Divine Son prayed! His entire life was an Infinite Sacrifice gladly given to the Father that men might be freed from satan’s snares.

      O! My Little Ones. Now in these end times it is necessary for you to realize that even though my Divine Son’s Gospel has been preached in every corner of the world, it is only a few who, in their hearts, have heard His Doctrine and lived it. The world has turned to evil and embraced it with open arms. Satan rules your world, every aspect of it because all of your material possessions, your bodily comforts and amusements have been your gods. You have fallen into the snare of the dragon, because you pronounce my Son’s name and are instantly drawn back to your worldly pleasure.

      Little children of my Immaculate Heart, I ask you to stand with my Divine Son and care naught for the world’s opinion. I ask you to examine your conscience and to realize how far from Him you have grown.

      You have only to open your heart, surrender your will and be embraced by Him. Even bound and chained my Divine Son wished to dispense mercy and forgiveness. Had any of the rabble sought forgiveness they would have found themselves embraced by His Sacred Heart, forever transformed.

      I am asking each of you in these end times to give Jesus your heart daily. Do this by your prayers, by fasting, by mortification, by reverence for Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Receive His forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance and then fly to His embrace in the Holy Eucharist.

      I love you. I exhort each of you to true repentance. In a contrite heart there is no fear, for then does the soul see the love of the Father where it has its eternal abode.

      Pray! Meditate. Convert your hearts, for you are called to be apostles of the end times.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part One of Lesson 9: THE ISCARIOT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BETRAYAL


The Full Bounty

     The Full Bounty of God's Love is exemplified in the writings of Pope John Paul II as he illustrates in his Apostolic Letter on the Role of the Laity, entitled Christifideles Laici which is expertly analyzed by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas in his summary of the Holy Father's writings for lay men and women. Today the topics are the Role of the Sick and Suffering and the Basic States of Life. For the twelfth installment, click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

twelfth installment:

CHAPTER FOUR: 17. The Role of the Sick and Suffering

     The sick and suffering, by bearing their burden in the joy of Christ, are a powerful witness to the Gospel. Health care workers also have a part to play in encouraging the sick and suffering, helping them draw close to the suffering of Christ in their pain. The world today censors talk of suffering, as though it had no positive value. Yet, the Gospel is listened to more closely when preached by suffers and by those who care for them, such as Mother Theresa. The pope recommends that readers meditate on his letter, Salvific Doloris, which discusses suffering in detail.

18. The Basic States of Life

      The three basic vocations in the Church can be viewed in a "sacramental" way—as signs to the Church and world. The lay state in general, because it strives to redeem and sanctify the temporal world, can be viewed as a sign of the ositive value of the things of life in the world. The clerical state, along this "sacramental" line of thinking, officially represents the continuing sacramental presence of Christ in the world. Those who live under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in religious life are a sign of the Church’s goal of living for heaven and not for the goods of this world (its "eschatological" character).

Next week: Chapter Five: Formation of the Laity



Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.


March 23, 1998 volume 9, no. 58         DAILY CATHOLIC