CATHOLIC PewPOINT:

Amidst all the chaos, a light shines in the darkness!

       Scripture has warned that nations will crumble, kingdoms will topple. The events this weekend portend to that. In Cuba, many suspect the Holy Fatherís visit will not only have a profound effect on the Cuban people but on Fidel Castro himself. Many feel the communist dictator is softening in his old age and will follow the counsel of John Paul II, albeit reluctantly at first, and open Cuba to the world as the Pope has beckoned so that the world can be opened to Cuba. This would lift the long embargo imposed by the United States since the Kennedy era, allowing free trade with this impoverished nation. The Holy Father, who former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has stated had more to do with bringing down Marxism than any other man, is now in the heart of the last Marxist stronghold and, as is his custom, is softening hearts to come back to Christ. History points to the fact that this is inevitable in Cuba. No world leader in this century has had more influence with political leaders than John Paul II and, we greatly suspect Castro would not have opened his arms to the Holy Father if he did not see the hand-writing on the wall. Marxist communism is drying up around the world and Castro has felt the pinch. As he ages, he realizes Cuba cannot exist without some form of capitalistic reform. He also is shrewd enough to realize that his people, largely Roman Catholic, will go easier on him if he allows them to practice their faith fully. We only hope he is realizing he, too, can return to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by repenting of his sins and asking God and the people to forgive him. If he could do this, he would become a hero around the world. The fame and power he had sought for years, but confined only to the imprisoned tiny isle of Cuba, would be known around the globe. Prayer can effect such conversions and the beautiful pictures emanating from Cuba over EWTN on the net and also in fragments from the networks depict a reverent people, starved for a chance to openly practice their faith. Itís something they donít take for granted, they donít take lightly. Faith is so precious and only when it is suppressed or taken away do we truly appreciate what we had.

     That is a great lesson for Americans to take to heart as we watch the Cuban faithful exhibit such reverence and love for Jesus and his holiness the Pope. The Blessed Mother has said to so many visionaries and messengers in these dire times that if we do not practice our faith and share it with others, we could lose it. Thatís not just an idle warning but one she has been reiterating for years, primarily at LaSalette when she warned the world. Yet so many go blindly on without realizing the urgency of her words. Already there are so many Catholic parishes where the true faith has been watered down, where heresies have crept in, where people are led to believe that the Eucharist isnít that important. After all, didnít Vatican II proclaim that Sacred Scripture - the Word - was equal to the Eucharist? If we have the Word, and if Jesus is equally present in the Word, then our protestant brethren have the same thing and the Eucharist is merely a ritual - a symbolism. Nothing more. Oh, how mislead modern Catholics are for the Eucharist is truly the focal point of our lives. It must be. It is true Jesus is present in the Word, just as He is present in the priest - the celebrant of the Mass, and the people - the Mystical Body of Christ. But in those three there is an ingredient missing for the Son of God is not corporally present as He is in the Eucharist where He is truly present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Vatican II documents reinforce this as does Pope Paul VIís encyclical Mysterium Fidei. This editor was discussing this with a local deacon the other day for he had been "taught in the seminary" the equality of Jesus in the Word and the Eucharist. He tried to refute my claim of Jesus being more present in the Eucharist by saying "then we are putting percentages on God." He missed the point for no one can put percentages on God. Rather, the Second Vatican Council fathers used the word "modes" so that we could attain a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist. These "modes" are principal ways in which the Lord is present to His Church in liturgical celebrations as the Constitution on the Liturgy points out. For more on this, see Vatican II Verifications in todayís issue.

     The Eucharist is our life-blood, for without It we are lost. Jesus said as much in John 6: 53-59. He has also said woe to those who cause scandal and it is a great scandal that is being visited on our country these last few days; a scandal that could rock this country to its core and a scandal that has taken the Pope off the front pages and off prime time coverage of his historical visit to Cuba in favor of the more lurid findings of a "smoking gun" that could bring Bill Clinton to the brink of impeachment for his immoral ways. Yet so many Americans are immune to the fact this immorality, which has been synonymous with the Clinton administration, hurts our nation and weakens our own moral fiber. People want to overlook, yea, even condone the sin, because they are prospering. No one prospers when souls are at stake. No one prospers when immorality reigns. Let us rephrase that, there is someone who prospers in all of this - satan - for he relishes sin, but not the sinner. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. While we might want to throw stones at Clinton for his reckless womanizing and lack of respect for the sixth and ninth commandments, not to mention many of the other commandments broken from trying to cover it all up, we must remember Christís counsel to not condemn the sinner, but rather the sin. What happens to Clinton will greatly affect our country, not because he is a great leader but because he exhibits no moral leadership. If he is disgraced because of his sins and sincerely repents for them, then we, as a nation, will be stronger for the ordeal, but if he continues to try to cover it up, our nation will be plunged in a deeper mire of hate and turmoil. Other nations will capitalize on Americaís malaize and, if Clinton is forced to step down ala Richard Nixon nearly twenty years ago there will not be a kinder, more forgiving successor like Gerald Ford in office, but rather another avowed abortionist whose intent is even more vile than Clintonís - namely Al Gore. We must hope and pray that the Republicans, still staggering from the struggle over the abortion platform, will produce a strong, viable, moral and Christian leader who can lead our nation out of the darkness and away from the culture of death, by embracing the culture of life in all its stages. Then, and only then, can we as a nation hope to be grounded in our faith. But for Catholics, without the Eucharist - all will be for nought. For God comes above country. Nations the world over throughout history have proven that, and the cries of reverent Cubans flocking to the Holy Father this weekend illustrate this profoundly. We are "one nation under God." Let us remember that and place the emphasis back on God and realize we are under Him, not over Him or equal to Him but totally dependent on Him. That is the only way to prevent our nation and our fellow Americans from being toppled. Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday we commemorate in a few weeks, said it best, "A nation divided cannot stand." We have seen what has happened to Cuba over the last several decades. We must not allow division to split us asunder. Just as vital, we must not allow the liberals within the Church to split us asunder for we must remain One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Holy Father is proof of this unity. He is living proof of the word "Catholic" for he is truly universal. So too, must we be, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our Church, for the sake of our souls and the souls of our brothers and sisters universally. Let us continue to faithfully follow the Pope for he is proof that, amidst all the chaos, a light shines in the darkness.

Michael Cain, editor

January 1998