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TUESDAY

March 24, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 59



IS JOHN PAUL II ONE OF THE GREATEST POPES EVER?

     That question covers a lot of men who have sat on the throne of Peter, two hundred and sixty four to be exact. But we strongly feel when Jesus handed the keys to Peter, He knew His Church would be in capable hands when the time for His promised renewal was at hand because He willed that a man of John Paul II's caliber, reach, and spirituality would be in charge during this time leading up to the glorious event foretold by Christ's Blessed Mother to whom this first non-Italian Pope since Pope Adrian VI in 1522 has dedicated his pontificate to - Totus Tuus. For today's editorial Our Holy Father. Heed him, help him, pray for him, clilck on the Tuesday CATHOLIC PewPOINT

Our Holy Father. Heed him, help him, pray for him.

     Over the weekend the children - all God's children - flocked to touch the Holy Father who patiently stood for hours in the searing heat to be near these people. Yesterday Pope John Paul II left Africa just as Bill Clinton was arriving on the dark continent where throngs turned out to meet him, but he retreated after a few handshakes because of the crush of the crowd and, after all, it was so hot! You can draw your own conclusions. Meanwhile, as the Holy Father was winging his way back to Rome he received the news of the death of a dear, beloved bishop, one of the more loyal prelates in the United States - Archbishop John R. Keating, who like Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishop John Myers, to name a few, have remained fiercely dedicated to his holiness in the face of liberal opposition among their peers. Archbishop Keating, 63, died of a massive heart attack at the Oblates residence just a few blocks from St. Peter's. His archdiocese, one of the largest sees in the country, had become the model for vocations with the fruits evident to all. His influence and his loyal obedience which he instilled with love in all God's children in his archdiocese and the constituents of his see will be sorely missed.

     Once again the media made a point to emphasize the "frail pope" in every story on his trip to Nigeria. Once in a while they mentioned that the temperature was in the high nineties with humidity to match. Again, we hammer home the point that we know of no 77-years old who keeps the kind of non-stop schedule John Paul maintains constantly. But the liberals within the media want to continue to subliminally give the impression that this "feeble, old man" should be replaced. Folks, he'll be replaced when God determines it's time to call his beloved and loyal pope-son home, and not until then! Please tell us of any other global leader in present time, or for that matter, over the course of this entire century and before that who had so much impact in a topsy-turvy world where morals have gone askew and the only sane voice emanating anywhere originates in Rome. He initiated the decline of communism, he has brought despots to their knees in submission to his stern plea for justice, he has not been timid in dealing with presidents, premiers, kings, queens, diplomats and celebrities in asserting what is right. And he has done so in such a gentle, but loving manner that it rarely offends anyone outright, but sure gets them to do some serious soul-searching, even though some have their minds already made up - have already made their pact with the devil. If anyone can bring peace to Kosovo, to Iraq, to Africa, to Cuba; if anyone can establish diplomatic relations with Red China, can make inroads with the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, can carry the flame of truth to the third world countries and stand against the promoters of the culture of death and not blink - it is John Paul the Great! Pope Leo I received that title, as did Pope Saint Gregory the Great and a few others have had that label added after their name such as the Greek conquerer Alexander and the man who opened Rome to the Catholic Church Constantine the Great. Few in the last several centuries can claim such a lofty title or deserve it. Such men as Abraham Lincoln, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X, and Winston Churchill could be considered, but all would pale in comparison to the quiet accomplishments of this modern-day saint who we all know is in the twilight of a holy and dedicated life to His Lord and Master and that Master's special Holy Mother to whom John Paul has dedicated his entire papacy to. We pray that he can outlast his critics, that God will keep him with us for a few more years, years that will test our very fiber both in the Church and in the world.

     Our Lady has foretold visionaries and messengers from Rue de Bac on that these times we are presently in will be the culmination of all she foretold in preparation for the Second Pentecost, the New Advent, the Era of Peace, the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart. But before this renewal can happen, there must be a purification both throughout the earth and within man's heart and soul. This purification - a form of chastisement - is upon us and will grow steadily more severe as we near the millennium. But we have Our Lady's messages to Father Don Stefano Gobbi in which she confirmed that her Immaculate Heart, which she promised at Fatima would be victorious, would be just that before the end of this millennium. Folks, that's less than two years!!! And besides the Blessed Mother, who else is preparing us for this? None other than that "frail, weak old man" who should go down as one of the greatest heroes in modern history. But he's not looking for the plaudits or for the recognition from the world, for like the Jewish Carpenter he follows, his "kingdom" - his domain is not of this earth. He is the spiritual leader of our Church and in the last few decades he has been the spiritual leader of the world. But, like that Man Who was hailed on Sunday and hung on a cross on Friday, he knows the persecution ahead and willingly accepts the cup...not for himself, but for those who he loves and cares so deeply for - all God's children! Heed him, help him, pray for him.

Michael Cain, editor

Not all Popes were great, not all were as dedicated as John Paul II

     We see this throughout the history of the popes, especially in today's chapter on Church history in the middle of the thirteenth century as we deal with Pope Innocent IV who, though he contributed much to Church Law and endowed universities throughout Europe, he abused many of the privileges of his papacy and dragged the Holy See down in a vendetta against the German king Frederick II Hohenstaufen and his son Conrad IV. For the sixty-first installment Pope Innocent IV Not as innocent as some may perceive him click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH

INTRODUCTION:

     Vendetta was the watchword of Pope Innocent IV's papacy, one filled with many abuses that previous popes had fought so hard to prevent. But the struggle between the Hohenstaufen kings and Innocent took the attention away from the way Innocent wielded his influence, promoted nepotism within the Holy See, and sought personal wealth at the expense of the papal coffers. Into this insanity there was a ray of light and sanity in the holy person of Saint Louis - King of France, who sought to unify the Church both for the cause of the Council of Lyons and the Seventh Crusade, which met with defeat because of the infidels' superior military strategy. In short, it was a bleak time in Church history, and yet, it was a necessary time for had Innocent not been so bullheaded in outlasting the excommunicated Frederick II Hohenstaufen, who's to say what the latter might have done.

Installment Sixty-One

Pope Innocent IV: Not as innocent as some may perceive him

     After the fifteen-day abbreviated papacy of Pope Celestine IV abruptly ended on November 10, 1241, the world waited a year and a half until a Pope was elected on June 25, 1243. For eighteen months the papal throne was vacant due to the problems with the German King Frederick II who had fought bitterly with Pope Gregory IX and had arrested the majority of cardinals, thus preventing them from forming a quorum to meet in conclave to select the next pontiff. As time passed, Frederick, still excommunicated from the Church by Gregory, sought to weed out a man who would be sympathetic to his side and reinstate him. Frederick thought he had his man in Cardinal Sinibaldo Fieschi, a Genoan born son of Count Hugo of Lavagnia who had been a brilliant lawyer, teacher at the University in Bologna, and, as a cardinal priest, served Gregory as his Vice Chancellor. When assured that he could work something out with the cardinals, he greatly influenced the conclave and the results showed it was man's will, not God's Will that would win out for the Holy Spirit was not truly present when the cardinals nominated Fieschi for Pope. The latter accepted and took the name Pope Innocent IV, but he was a far cry from his namesake Pope Innocent III for the former was one who had always wanted to wield power and in the position of supreme pontiff he abused his privileges, making nepotism a common thing by elevating many of his relatives, buying favors and exercising retaliation for personal reasons, not something one would characterize with one who would be the Vicar of Christ. Innocent was anything but innocent for he wielded power by raising funds by selling spiritual promises - a precursor to simony, and he sanctioned use of torture to squeeze confessions out of his enemies and those he mistrusted. Except for relatives, that was practically everyone! However, this so-called spiritual leader was overshadowed by the shenanigans and selfish deeds of his counterpart in the temporal world - Frederick II Hohenstaufen. The two were meant for each other and at first Frederick offered to evacuate all papal territories and release the rest of the imprisoned clergy in exchange for being readmitted into the Church. Innocent agreed to begin the process, but, having been Vice Chancellor under Gregory, he knew Frederick's habits all too well. Thus he hesitated at the same rate Frederick did and a stalemate resulted. Finally, Frederick was the first to blink and Innocent had had enough. Convening the Thirteenth Ecumenical Council, called the First Council of Lyons in France, Innocent passed various reform measures and tried to influence the body of council fathers with painting Frederick as a despot gone off the deep end. They unanimously agreed he should formally be deposed as the emperor, and gave Innocent approval to re-emphasize the excommunication and for him to dispatch missionaries to preach against him, recruited the German people to elect a new king, and even went so far as to plot a way to murder Frederick. However, that was foiled by the good king of France - Louis IX - better known as Saint Louis who intervened in trying to maintain peace while gaining support for another Crusade which he set out on in 1248, a campaign that did not go well as it followed the pattern of past crusades where the Saracens were dug-in and prepared for the hastily gathered group of Europeans with nothing really in common but their faith.

      Meanwhile, when word reached Frederick of the Pope's actions, he was furious and retaliated by reoccupying the papal states and meddling heavily in ecclesial affairs, intimidating many bishops. Before he could do any further damage, Frederick died on December 13, 1250 and the Hohenstaufen throne passed to his second son Conrad IV who was in the same mold as his infamous father. Innocent continued to preach a Crusade as did St. Louis, but their foes were different. While Innocent was obsessed with bringing Frederick down, the holy French king saw the real enemy as the Moslems and pushed for that cause. Because of Louis' influence, Innocent was not able to muster the necessary muscle to push Frederick or Conrad out. Though he tried, the weak candidates he endorsed were too divided to create any progress. Innocent raised the further ire of Conrad when the former began shopping the the throne of Sicily around Europe in hopes of weakening the latter and gaining a strong ally to the south. But, those who might have coveted such a crown, hesitated to come forward for they greatly feared retaliation by Conrad for the new German king had ransacked Italy out of revenge for the Popes' treatment of his father. Yet, in a surprising twist, Conrad bequeathed his own son to Innocent's care when he died on May 21, 1254. With Conrad's death, Frederick's illegitimate son Manfred took control. In deference to his half brother Conrad who had given his only son for the Pope to care for, he did not go after the Pope. This strange and short alliance caused him to proclaim Innocent as overlord of Sicily. But Innocent didn't waste a moment in annexing it into the papal states and this was not Manfred's intent. The new king rebelled by routing the papal troops at Foggia. It seemed to be the last straw for shortly after word of this devasting defeat reached Innocent in residence in Naples and suffering greatly with pluerisy, the crotchety pontiff died on December 7, 1254.

     The Church, due to the constant bickering and ego between Frederick/Conrad and Gregory/Innocent was greatly weakened. Though Innocent is still hailed as the "warrior who slayed the Hohenstaufen dragon," and for his contributions to Church Law and contributions to scholastics throughout Europe, he will unfortunately go down in papal annals as one who abused his privileges of the papacy and alienated many Christian leaders and nations throughout the continent. Rather than bringing people together, he had divided them. Save for Saint Louis, who had little time or patience for the method of this pontiff, but was loyal because of the office Innocent held and what it meant, many turned away from the Pope and active participation in the Church. It would make it that much more difficult for future generations of evangelists and missionaries who had to replant the seeds, re-educate the people and assure them of the Church's true intention to serve them, rather than being served as untouchable royalty.

Next installment: Pope Alexander IV - Trying to pick up the pieces and reestablish trust

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.


One who misjudged what greatness truly is

     In the first part of Lesson 9, THE ISCARIOT IN THE AFTERMATH OF BETRAYAL we see despair eat away at Judas Iscariot who misunderstood what Jesus truly taught and allowed the serpent to slither into his psyche and turn him against his own Master - indelibly writing forever the term "Judas" for anyone who was a betrayer. We see first hand his regret, but he is too proud, too far gone, to ask forgiveness. It is a lesson that no matter what we may do, God will always forgive if we but ask Him. 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. By reading these meditative lessons, it is hoped we can be properly prepared and not be tempted to turn our backs on Jesus, or worse, betray Him and ourselves. Click on "IT IS CONSUMMATED!"

Meditative Lesson 9:

THE ISCARIOT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BETRAYAL

part one

      Dear Father, it is Sunday morning and eagerly do I prepare for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our Blessed Mother says that when we go to Mass well-disposed and well-prepared we are truly present on Calvary with her, St. John and the Holy Women. We are there to comfort, thank and adore Jesus Our Savior and that by our reverent reception of Him in the Blessed Sacrament, we truly enter His Sacred Heart. We must seek and want this unity; we must ask for It, for it is a gift from God.
"And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple he departed and went and hanged himself with a halter." Matthew 27: 5
      I am no longer in the Court of Caiphas. I am in Jerusalem, upon a street, but there is nothing which helps me to know the exact location. It is still dark. But I hear movement, sporadic steps that run, stop, run and then stumble.

      I am seized with terror and I donít understand why. It paralyses me and though I want to run, I find I am rooted to this spot where two small alley-like streets join. Far in the distance there can be heard a rumble. It grows. I turn in that direction and realize it is the ever-growing crowd near the Temple area which has heard of Jesusí arrest. There is even a faint reddish glow visible - the bonfires and torches.

      But here, this lower street, is one of poverty and the residents are not about. Yet one must be because I hear the running steps, the pause, the footsteps along the rough street.

      And from around the corner comes a figure, mantle flying out behind him; he runs haphazardly, constantly looking over his shoulder, trying to keep moving but hesitation as if he can hear his pursuers.

      As he comes into the street where I stand pressed against a wall of thick stone, he pauses with his back to me. He pants. His hair is damp with perspiration, his clothing muddied and ripped where he has apparently fallen during his flight. He cocks his head. What is it he hears? The rumble of the distant crows? Does he know of Jesusí arrest?

      He turns and now I see his face. The face of the betrayer - Judas Iscariot. I want to melt into the wall, so wild does he look. His eyes roll.

      Saliva drips from his mouth like a mad, rabid dog. He presses his hands, which are dirty, scraped and bleeding in places and, shaking his head back and forth, moans in a hoarse, beastly cry: "No! Stop. The words burn me."

      And then I am able to hear what he is hearing. Not from anyone standing beside him, but the very last vestiges of conscience and soul in their death agony.

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


Greatness begins and ends with God

     In his column today, Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. addresses that point that in order for us to grow as God wills, we have to strive for greatness - a greatness that can be ours spiritually because it is given by God Who is Greatness. That is the subject of Vertical Faith God's Operation by keeping our eye on the Prize and our faith to the grindstone. Fr. John explains in his thirty-first installment of his series "Faith: Key to the Heart of God." Click on KEYS TO LIVING GOD'S WILL

Thirty-First Installment: Vertical Growth: God's Operation

      God wants us to expect to grow in faith. So letís talk about the avenues through which we can look for this growth. How can we fertilize the faith we already have? First, there is Godís part in faith building, and then there is our part.

      Godís part works in several ways. He wants us, first of all, to know that faith comes from Him as a gift (Acts 3:16; I Corinthians 12:9), and that He is the builder of our faith (Hebrews 12:2; John 17:19). Realizing that He both gives and develops our faith opens us to growth. Jesus pleads (John 14:1), "Believe in God, believe in me." This starts the growth process.

      The second step in Godís operation of cultivating faith is to teach us through experience. Our faith is fed when we see God intervene dramatically in our own or othersí lives. Before I became involved in the charismatic renewal, I had some level of faith. But after witnessing a crescendo of extraordinary healings and other events, and after hearing countless amazing testimonies, my level of faith has grown. It has been fertilized by what Iíve seen happening in the lives of these people. It is now easier to believe not just that God could do it but that He would do it, not just that He can do it but that He will do it. I didnít have that kind of faith ten years ago, or even three years ago, as much as I have it now. I have come to expect God to work miracles and the hope of my own faith increasing (II Corinthians 10:15). When I open my mail and read almost daily of someone being healed, or a marriage that was near divorce now featuring a couple madly in love, I come to expect such divine interventions. It is no longer a rare thing. Through these experiences, my faith is built.

      We come to have more faith in the person of Jesus as we read and meditate on the miracles of Jesus. Contemporaneously, as we see the power of God operating intimately (even though subtly) in our life, and then focus on Jesus as the cause of that, we come to grow in our faith in Him. From an event-oriented observation we arrive at a person-oriented faith. In the words of Jesus (John 14:11): "At least believe in me because of the works I perform."

      A third way in which the Lord works at building our faith is directly. God directly imparts the charismatic gift of faith to us, particularly after receiving the Baptism in the Spirit. Or, He may impart astonishing faith during times of deep contemplative prayer, when He seems to speak to us in a very clear way. Paul implies this in Colossians 1:9: "Ask God to make you wise about spiritual things. Thus, you will come to know God better and better."

      The more we come to know the Lord directly, and experience His reality (Ephesians 3:19), the more we will exercise our faith. God will start to work minor miracles in our life "rewarding our faith with His power" (II Thessalonians 1:11). Dozens of times a day we begin to notice happy and exciting, yet extraordinary "coincidences," and these start occurring with increasing frequency. They are Godís whisperings of love for us, spawned by our growth in faith. For instance, a tax rebate arrives in the mail when you need it most, or a much desired item is found at a super bargain price. Such "little things" become commonplace and almost staggering in their consistent occurrence. This builds our person-oriented faith in the Lord because it is as if God were saying, "See? I am taking care of you because I love you!"

      In summary, the three main ways God develops our faith are by responding to our God-centered trust, by granting us experiences of extraordinary or miraculous things happening in our life, and finally by directly and sovereignty imparting His faith to us (often manifested by extraordinary "coincidences"). In these three ways, God reaches us to stimulate our growth in faith. So much for Godís part in the process.

Next Installment: Vertical Growth:Our Cooperation



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March 24, 1998 volume 9, no. 59         DAILY CATHOLIC