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Over the weekend three naval ships left for deportment to the gulf region from San Diego. Wives wept as they saw their husbands off. Neither spouse knew what lay ahead for the military doesn't know what to expect. So many Americans are suffering from "overconfidence" in the wake of the easy manner they dispatched the Iraqui threat in 1991. But did they really? Consider that Saddam Hussein is still very much in charge and has had seven years to build more weapons, including chemical and nuclear warfare. Seven years ago at about this very time Father Ken Roberts told us that we had to defeat Hussein, not because of the "oil rights" but that if we gave him five more years, he could build bombs that would be devastating. Well folks, ol' "Sad-dem" as then President George Bush called him, has not had five but seven years to clandestinely wrought his destruction. During that "seven year itch" Bush's successor has managed to bring America to the edge of the abyss. We're speaking, of course, about Bill Clinton who has become the symbol of what's wrong with America. Clinton and his Democratic cronies have managed to deplete the military to the alarming status it was during the Jimmy Carter era. The military strength has been softened, rusting from inactivity and change of command in which the current leaders don't seem to embody the caliber of military leadership and supremacy that such stalwart men as General Norman Schwartskoff and General Colin Powell exhibited. In addition, it is a whole new generation of soldiers with untested weapons and greenhorn troops still wet behind the ears with only horror stories about the conditions the last time U.S troops invaded this area. Oh, there will be some things that don't change: CNN will be there again on both sides of the line, conducting the war, if you will, for it truly has become a "Wag the Dog" scenario. In that movie, released recently, the administration fabricates a war to take America's attention off a possible sexual scandal that could erupt in the White House. Sound familiar? The only difference is that this war is not being fabricated, but rather forced on us. It isn't something that the media will be able to cut, edit, write and rewrite and wrap it all up in time for prime time with enough lulls in between to accommodate the millions of dollars in commercials. No, this war will be very real, very different than the one at the beginning of this decade. Fr. Roberts has already indicated what could happen if Hussein was allowed to remain in charge. In an historical snafu akin to General MacArthur and President Truman in Korea, Bush chose not to pursue further the capture of Hussein in late Spring 1991 when the U.S. had the Iraqui's reeling. Claiming a hollow victory because they had driven the Iraq forces out of Kuwait, American troops reluctantly fell back. Because of that blunder, we have the situation today.
But the situation is not the same as Our Lady has warned, specifically in the message to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart on December 29, 1991 when America was riding a wave of superiority and Bush's popularity was at an all-time high, to be aware of what lay ahead - the false peace of satan and the facade nations were placing before our eyes, hearts and souls...especially our own country of America. Our Lady said, "I tell this to you so that you may, through prayer, more readily understand my words. Your country, of which I am patroness, recognizes certain "new" nations but disregards others. It is a deception, a 'game', the rule by which nations play, seeking only power and glory. I solemnly tell you that communism is not yet dead. It has merely put on a mask, and satan clouds your eyes, your mind until you perceive this hideous monster as extinct. No, my dear children. Much, much prayer is required still before this reign which denies God shall forever be banished from the earth. Pray! Pray for all nations, especially your own, that its government, its people may belong to God above all else. If you do not pray as I have asked you will see the rapid decline of your nation, because the offenses against God are severe and cry out for justice."
Now a little more than six years later we can see the truth of her words and see how our once proud and righteous nation has sunk into rapid decline. Bill Clinton has led this charge toward the abyss as Our Lady prophesied. He has not only allowed for the precursor of the antichrist to reign, but given it the adoration that will be America's downfall and the people, like blind sheep, have bought it hook, line and sinker! That last word has a drowning, deafening finality to it and the only way we can stay afloat is to return to the values established by God the Father in the Ten Commandments and fully defined by Jesus Christ through Sacred Scriptures and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Tomorrow we will speak of the false idol that the antichrist has foisted on the people, seducing America and the world with - for the antichrist is very much among us, though in disguise, he is here and his methods have been too effective to suit us and the rest of the faithful remnant. Yes, the signs are there. Beware of the 'false peace' that will soon take off its mask. Like the "Phantom of the Opera" when it reveals its true face, we shall shriek in horror at its sight. Hideous is its countenance for it is the horrendous phantom of the false peace!
Now, back to the site in question. The site, overseen by the rector of the Shrine - Monsignor Michael J. Bransfield under Cardinal James Hickey, includes the normal rooms such as coming events, schedule, directions, Jubilee 2000, bookstore, etc. but it also includes a historical perspective that gives one the background on how the shrine came to be, the principals involved and even pictures of the construction progress. The site also provides a section on the origin of pilgrimages and what a pilgrim connotes. Probably the best aspect of this site is the Virtual Tour which provides descriptions and prayers for most of the 38 chapels in the crypt below, chapels which truly exhibit the universality of Holy Mother Church and the plethora of cultures from traditional to Byzantine. With each chapel site is a description of the altar, origin of the concept and often photos of the crypt sanctuary such as the one of Our Lady of Lourdes to the right which also lists the story of Lourdes and an explanation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception with accompanying prayer. In the main church above there are also 38 areas dedicated to Our Lady and various saints - these include altars and paintings, statues,etc. with the beautiful mosaic of the Immaculate Conception in full color along with the novena and consecration. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel where the Holy Eucharist reposes perpetually in this magnificent edifice is truly inspirational. To sum it up, one can spend hours touring these 76 chapels and mosaics in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. They load fast and there is little wait. White space is used well with a weave/wood background that is carried throughout the site. Photos are very tasteful and plentiful with no page carrying more than two or three. The site is easy to navigate and gives the browser the urge to make plans to visit this national shrine, but next to actually being there, this site is the next best thing. Therefore we bestow our prestigious "Golden Chalice Award" to this site, conferring FOUR Hail Mary's to this site signifying the message of Our Lady imparted at Lourdes and the significant relationship to America's past, present and future! "Golden Chalice Award" to this site, conferring a perfect full decade of TEN Hail Mary's to this king of Medjugorje web sites honoring the Queen of Peace.
From all that has been said, it becomes evident that unity existed from all eternity, and that division came into existence with lucifer's rebellion, and that division entered upon earth when lucifer, now satan, tricked Adam and Eve out of obedience into a life that was to be based on logic. Division appeared on the scene when lucifer, making use of his 'angelic mind,' discovered for himself, his beauty, his power and the fact that he could act separately from God. Division found its way onto the earth when Adam and Eve ceased using their hearts as a base from which to maintain an ongoing life in union with God and chose instead to make use of their minds in order to plot their own course by doing what made sense to them. Rather than remain in unity with God by a life emanating from the heart, they chose to disunite themselves by leading an independent life from God, their independence being declared by a report they received from the mind that they could live very well without God, without having to bend to Him, without having to live a life dependent upon Him.
Satan is the one who is responsible for all division. As he made use of trickery to get Adam and Eve to operate in life essentially and basically with the use of the mind, it follows that division is caused essentially and basically when the mind, at the expense of the heart, is given prime importance and made to be the principal thrust in maintaining life on a moment to moment, day to day basis.
Jesus is the One Who has introduced unity once again into the world. He came obeying His Father in all things. He came to put all things back into order, into unity. As Adam and Eve brought division into the world, Jesus came to bring unity. To do this, He came leading with His Heart. His thrust into life on this earth was a hearty thrust.
It should be quite clear that no one can obey God with one's mind. The mind was given to humans by the Creator primarily that they micht make use of it precisely to find out just what it was that God wished of each to do, so that with the heart, each person might readily and freely do just that. God had given mankind the mind in order that He could, at His will, communicate with it and impress upon it just what it was that He wished each to do at any given moment.
In my next installment I will continue this thread on Unity - and how our Catholic Faith fosters this.
To review Father Valenta's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the August 18, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 16.
The council taught: "The term 'lay faithful' is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those belonging to a religious state sanctioned by the Church. Through Baptism, the lay faithful are made one body with Christ and are established among the People of God. They are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world...It belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God" (Constitution on the Church, 31).
There are three parts to this definition. The first part speaks of the new life given us through Baptism. Baptism makes us children of our Heavenly Father. We become members of the Body of Christ, the Church. And we are consecrated as living temples of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we enter into the life of the Most Holy Trinity in the Church through Baptism.
The second part speaks of the priestly, prophetic, and kingly nature of lay life, reflecting the "threefold office of Christ" theme which runs through the council documents. We are priestly when we offer our normal, daily activities to Christ as a sacrifice, and when we bring those offerings to Mass and Holy Communion. We are prophetic when we proclaim, by example and by word when appropriate, the truth of the Gospel. We fulfill our kingly natures by freeing ourselves from the kingdom of sin, and also by re-ordering creation to its right purpose in the Lord.
The third part speaks of the secular character of the laity. The traditional Catholic approach to the laity viewed lay life in the world as having only a sociological meaning. So, a layman did religious things as a member of the Church, but civic things as a citizen. Now, the lay presence in the temporal realm is given theological meaning. Laity are the Church present in family, job, career, culture, politics, and so on. Our normal life circumstances are not just an external framework of our Catholic life. They are "a reality destined in Jesus Christ to find the fullness of their meaning" (p. 36). Where we live, work, our families, etc., are not accidental to being Catholics. They are the matter, given by God, through which His plan for our lives is formed.
The Pope reminds us of the Council's teaching that we laity, as much as priests and religious, are called to holiness. There is a "universal call to holiness." We are not "second class," when it comes to living fully for God. Before the Council, the accepted thinking was that if one really wanted to be holy, one should be a priest, sister, or brother. Lay holiness must be worked out in one's ordinary circumstances, just as is the case with one's lay apostolate. So, this holiness may be hidden from the view of most people. But personal holiness is the indispensable foundation of the Church's mission. It must be fostered if the rest of the lay apostolate is to be effective.