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That's a question we ask. Could it be ol' hornhead is horning more and more into the sanctuary contaminating priests, bishops and cardinals? Our Lady said as much at La Salette. The vision and messages to Saint John Bosco affirm it, and many messages to modern visionaries and messengers reiterate this. The actions of many priests, bishops and cardinals today confirm it. But the cardinal taking on Mother is a "David and Goliath" of mammoth proportions. Mahony chided Mother's recent miraculous healing as fitting so he wouldn't be accused of going after a "crippled nun." Perhaps he fails to consider that God healed her so that she could not only proclaim to the world God's Mercy and Love, but provide the world with a sign she should stay the course and not be intimidated by the liberals, even when their spokesperson is a cardinal, but rather uphold all that Jesus Christ intended for His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Mother's situation is not unique. Consider her makeup. She is loyal, feisty, stubborn, persistent, dedicated to her faith and vocation, and intent on correcting wrongs within her beloved Church. There were three others who shared those same traits. Two are Doctors of the Church, the other was the founder of the Order Mother belongs to: Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Siena, and Saint Claire. Like Teresa and Catherine, who bumped heads not only with priests, bishops and cardinals, but also popes, Mother is bent on upholding the truths and not compromising on the dogmas, doctrines, teachings, and traditions of her faith. All these women were daring. Claire wouldn't allow the reformers to taint the Religious Order she had founded with Saint Francis' blessing and help. In fact, she was so obstinate that she defied the advice of her fellow nuns and personally took the monstrance to the heights of the city walls and held it aloft in the face of an inevitable Saracen attack. Her faith and courage turned them back. Teresa made quite a few enemies and suffered much, but never gave up in her feisty fight to return the Carmelites to the purity of the principles and essence on which they were founded. Catherine influenced not only bishops and cardinals, but convinced the supreme pontiffs to fight back and to return to Rome from their exile in Avignon. So Mother is in good company.
It's a known fact that Mother and her fifty-million plus audience are the target of many of the bishops who don't take kindly to having someone as a watchdog to their carte blanche liberal policies as they grow further from Rome. Just as Catherine and Teresa were the targets of bishops and cardinals who didn't want these women meddling in matters they thought these two Doctors of the Church had no business in, so also is Mother today. Unfortunately those who opposed Catherine and Teresa had other ideas for the Church, agendas that didn't fit the overall well-being of Holy Mother Church. Despite persecution, slander, innuendo and power abuse that tried in vain to silence or curtail their efforts, the two saints prevailed. We're not saying Mother is a saint...yet, but take into consideration that Mother and EWTN have always upheld everything that the Church stands for with no exceptions and loyally follow the Pope's teachings and decrees, that is the way toward holiness and obedience. Can the cardinal say the same thing? According to his director for media relations Father Gregory Coiro, a Capuchin, the cardinal is consulting canon lawyers to try to get Rome to issue an interdiction against Mother. First of all, wouldn't you think a cardinal would know Canon Law backwards and forwards? Secondly, if he truly had a "clean closet" and was going to go "after" Mother, it would have happened by now. Thirdly, his threats to take it to Rome are hollow in light of the fact he was in Rome for the American Synod in December soon after the flap broke out and didn't approach, as far we know, the Holy Father on this matter. He'll have another chance to see the Pope this month since the American Ad Limina visits have begun where the U.S. bishops and cardinals meet with the Holy Father this month and next at different times depending on their region of the country. The thinking here is that Mahony's caveat is only a verbal coercion. Most liberals do it that way. Why? Because they don't have the ammo to back up their threats, for one; and secondly, because to bring something like this up for review they know their slate would be examined under the microscope as well. It's the normal course of any kind of jurist procedure. Because of this we suspect Mahony doesn't want the Holy Father to look too deeply into what he is really doing in his archdiocese. Therefore, look for this to all blowover as the cardinal tries to muscle Mother into compliance. He has tried to put undue influence on cracking down on the internet, crying foul that there were sites promoting private revelation, but saying very little about such sites as "Catholics for a Free Choice," "A Call To Action," "Dignity," and "We Are Church." Why do you think that is??? He's betrayed his liberal tendencies too many times to be truly taken seriously and he himself as too many blemishes to fully carry out his scare tactics. We also know you can't "muscle" or muzzle Mother. No one ever has, though they've tried. There's only one who could silence her and if he did, Mother would be totally obedient and comply. That would be Pope John Paul II. But he is the one who has given his blessings to Mother's tremendous apostolate and it is highly doubtful he would ever cowtow to the pressure of a liberal curia, cardinals and bishops to silence one of the true vehicles in the United States, the one influential voice that is trying to convey to the Church all the Pope is asking. No one ever muscled or muzzled Saint Teresa or Catherine. Yet they were respectful of priests, bishops and cardinals until they stepped over that line and went against the wishes of the Holy Father. Then they went into action. The same with Mother. The cardinals and bishops of Teresa and Catherine's time tried to silence them, but they could not be because God was on their side. Christ said in Matthew 7: 15, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them." The proof is in the pudding. Mother is not afraid to expose the wolves. Plus, the fruits of Mother's ministry are legendary. Despite all odds she has succeeded because she has, despite of and because of her stubbornness, sought to always do the will of God for she truly believes in Our Lord's words in Matthew 7: 21 ...he who does the will of My Father in Heaven shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. What of the fruits of the cardinal of Los Angeles? A good question that remains unanswered. But if he will comply totally with everything Rome has decreed and give up his agenda for a new American church, then perhaps the fruits will come. Right now, from his actions and track record we're looking at a pretty barren tree and we all know what a barren tree can't produce. So, if it comes to a showdown between Mother and Mahony, bet on this modern Teresa of Avila to prevail! March signals the beginning of Spring; a new time that should signal a rebirth of faith and compliance with Rome. That is the crux of Mother's tirade against the cardinal. Since this all took place during the winter of 1997 and 1998, we all look forward to Spring as hope springs eternal that the cardinal will come to his senses and calm down. As that noted bard William Shakespeare wrote, "Me thinks thou dost protest too much!" If he continues to protest, he could be in for quite a battle. After all, this "ram" is going up against a protective "lioness." Lionesses have that inborn motherly instinct to protect so she's not called "Mother" Angelica for nothing! And this fiery nun, like role models Teresa and Catherine, is one of the most ferocious defenders of the faith. After all she is: Mother Angelica - the "Lioness of Winter" who takes refuge in the Lamb of God.
The Pope then quotes the new 1983 Code of Canon Law: "The Christian faithful are at liberty to found and govern associations for charitable and religious purposes or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world; they are free to hold meetings to pursue these purposes in common" (Canon 2150.
This freedom is to be "exercised in Church communion." The Pope then gives five criteria for discerning the genuineness of a lay group.
The bishops have the task of discerning such groups, so as to help groups work better. "They ought to accompany their work of discernment with guidance and, above all, encouragement so that lay associations might grow in Church communion and mission" (p. 76).
Next week: Chapter Three: Evangelization and Renewal of Society with specifics
In counseling married people, I find that the greatest source of arguments, separations, and divorces is the breakdown in communication. What is this breakdown, but a failure of spouses to listen to each other. This same condition comes up in every facet of life. Children by and large do not listen to their parents, parents to their children, individuals to individuals, individuals to authority, authority to individuals. I personally feel that all of this is the concentrated work of Our Lady's adversary in order to bring about a society wherein no one listens to another, and instead, goes about doing his/her own thing, not giving any concern how it effects another. The complete breakdown in family life is the result of this type of satan's interference.
Why would the devil be so interested in bringing damage to, or even a destruction of, good listening? First, because in doing this, he is dissolving an essential element that keeps society bonded. If ultimately no one listens to another, there comes about total confusion and a dissolution of the human family. When God created the human being, He made each person to be a unique individual and yet, not so unique as not to be an integral part of the human family as well. Satan here is working to erode an essential part in the composure of the human being. He is also in the process of destroying the internal integrity of each human person. All of this he does in order to revenge himself, first on God and secondly, out of jealousy, on every human being.
In my next installment I will continue with this as we talk about how satan gets us to listen to him by us not listening to God.
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.
Finally, it is Peter with his wiry salt-and-pepper hair who clears his throat.
"Master, we have been talking and...," Peter hesitates and Jesus now turns around, His face fully composed and He looks upon His Rock with great love.
"And what have you discussed? Come, open your hearts to Me, that I might help you."
Well, it seems only prudent to us that you remain here for the Passover meal," Peter hurriedly explains, gesturing for support from his fellow apostles.
There is a chorus of "Yes, Master. Listen to your Peter. Even John agrees," and so forth.
Peter encouraged, hurries on in his speech. "Master, we only seek to keep you from harm. It is difficult for us to understand these events. While only a few days ago it was like, a a..."
A tide of praise for you, Master!" says Thomas enthusiastically.
All the people proclaimed You! They sang Hosanna to You!" says Andrew.
But the mood has swiftly changed," murmurs James, John's brother.
"And the rumors abound everywhere of plots against You," confesses James, our Lord's cousin and brother of Jude Thaddeus.
So, Lazarus has offered us his home. We will be safe here," summarizes Peter. "The Romans respect Lazarus and therefore the Sanhedrin dare not come against him."
Let us celebrate Passover here, Lord," says Simon Zealot. "Soon the dissenters will disperse and..."
"Have you not yet understood?" Jesus asks with an infinite weariness in His voice. "It is the hour. You each know the Scriptures, and all that has been revealed concerning the Messiah. I am He, the Son of God. I have come to fulfill the Father's will. And to do that all of Scripture must be fulfilled."
"But..." Peter stops short and lowers his head. There are no words left to say. Jesus is Master. The Apostles, like lost little boys, shuffle uncomfortably and await a reproof.
"You are My cornerstones. You must also pass through this great trial. And not only you alone. For I solemnly tell you that in all future generations, down to the last man upon earth, all who follow My way - the only way of salvation - must likewise be tested and pass through great trial. But be not troubled. For you shall yet have the power of the Spirit to teach you many things. This is yet to be given you. Rely upon My words and receive My blessing. We shall go tomorrow to Jerusalem for Passover. I will give you all necessary instructions in the morning. Also, I shall speak to Lazarus that he, also, might understand. Now I ask you to be at peace, and in that peace to be as one in prayer that the hour of trial may not catch you unprepared. Go now. I will speak now to My Mother."
The apostles leave in groups of two and threes. There is silence among them as they ponder His words. They move off, in the direction of the large house, and take a different path when they realize that Jesus' Mother has come along a path so quietly that only her Son noticed.
"Son, You are weary. Sit and rest," says Mary with all love and concern.
Jesus takes His Blessed Mother's hand and together they sit upon the bench. There is silence, broken only by the call of a bird, the rustling of a hot breeze through the trees. They remain in silence, their souls and hearts as one pleading for all mankind before the throne of God. And in this manner peace descends to this hallowd place.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 3: Our Lady's Meditation on WITH THE APOSTLES ON THE EVE OF PASSOVER