Saturday, September 20, 2008
I have been a bit tardy updating this blog, must be giving into the sin of sloth. It is one of the seven deadly ones. Today let us read the lives of Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions. These saints were newly canonized by Pope John Paul II.
I suspect that a similar persecution may take place in my native land of India. I hope that the Catholic population there gives a strong witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the river of blood of the martyrs gives birth to a new harvest of Catholic Souls in a land of one billion people.
Born to Korean nobility; his parents were converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. Andrew was baptized at age 15, then travelled 1,300 miles to the nearest seminary in Macao. He became Korea's first native priest, and the first priest to die for the faith in Korea. Leader of the Martyrs of Korea.
After baptism at the age of fifteen, Andrew traveled thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital.
Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and a married man, aged forty-five. Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for an annual journey to Beijing to pay taxes. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found four thousand Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were ten thousand Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.
When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984, he canonized Andrew, Paul, ninety-eight Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were laypersons: forty-seven women, forty-five men.
Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of twenty-six. She was put in prison, pierced with hot awls and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of thirteen, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a forty-one-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.
Today there are approximately four million Catholics in Korea.
The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land.
Friday, September 19, 2008
In addition to the violence taking place in Orissa, Karnataka, Madya Pradesh, and Kerala, Archbishop Concessao also cites abuses by Hindu fundamentalists in Delhi. Just yesterday, a Hindutva group occupied the property in front of the church of Prabhu Prakash Girija, in Trilokpuri, in the eastern part of Delhi. The property is used as a garden by the Catholics, and the city authorities have placed limitations on construction on the spot. The church has been maintaining the garden since 1991. But the extremist group has threatened to build a temple there. Last week, they placed statues of Hindu divinities in a niche set up against the wall of the church.
In the past, there have been many clashes between Hindus and Muslims because of attempts by radical Hindus to take possession of Islamic places of worship.
"This is another incident of the growing anti-Christian wave that is spreading its evil tentacles all over our beloved country and sadly, it will have long-term disastrous consequences on secular democracy. These misguided extremists are indoctrinated with the Hinduvta ideology and their methodology and strategy is ‘muscle power’, they do not respond to either reason or dialogue. It is very much like Nazism, they are brainwashed into believing that India should be exclusively Hindu, they do not believe in secular democracy".
"This is very unfortunate, on the one hand on the global stage, India is emerging as a world power in the 21st century, while in our own country, there is growing religious intolerance and human rights and freedom of faith are blatantly violated. The international community and the world leaders who believe in secular democracy must oppose and condemn this gross violation of constitutional rights in India. It is much larger than ‘minority rights’, it is a question of the future of democracy in India".
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
At 1:30 this morning, a group of five people with air guns came to the Carmel Convent in Banduha and wounded the guard, Amar Singh, shooting him three times. He is in the hospital, and is not in serious condition. Amar Says that "the culprits asked me to call the sisters but I told them that they were not available. They beat me and asked me to cry loudly so that sisters would come out. They shot me with air guns when I disobeyed, and went away".
One of the sisters, Sr Dhanya, says that four days earlier, a group had surrounded the convent making noise and shouting slogans, but the guard chased them away. The police have opened an investigation on the incident. Last week a church was burned in Ratlam. But the police attributed the responsibility to the guards.
Fr Anand Muttungal, spokesman for the bishops of Madya Pradesh, affirms that these incidents are not random: "in Madhya Pradesh, there is a series of attacks taking place here. It is always done with different methods; we are in touch with the higher officials and leaders from different socio-political organizations. We are peace-loving people, so violence is not our way of living".
In Ujire, at 5 o'clock this morning, a group of unidentified persons entered the Syro-Catholic church of St George. They burned bibles, missals, prayer books, desecrated the tabernacle, destroyed the crucifix, the statues and icons. They also poured kerosene on the curtains to burn the building, but fortunately it did not catch fire.
Fr Joseph Valiaparambil, spokesman for the diocese of Belthangady, says "We are peace-loving people. We, the Catholic community, with all like-minded people forgive the culprits and pray for them as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to do. Ours is a democratic country and all the citizens enjoy equal rights and privileges . . . The violence and brutality against Christians in Karnataka is perpetrated on the basis of false ideologies and distorted notions that violate the very fabric of democracy and the spirit of the constitution of India".
Early this morning, a replica of the grotto of Lourdes was also attacked, near the church of St Mary, in Kolar. The culprits broke the statue of the Virgin Mary and the panels protecting it. Christians, Muslims, and Hindus all venerate the statue of the Virgin Mary. The custodian and cleaning person at the grotto is a Hindu woman.
On September 14, 20 churches were attacked in Karnataka. The police are accused of not preventing the attacks, even though they knew about them. Catholics have organized demonstrations to criticize the attitude of the security forces. In many cases, police savagely beat the faithful.
The new wave of attacks against Christians and their institutions began in Orissa, after Maoists ordered the killing of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23. Hindu fundamentalist organizations accuse the Christians of being the authors of the assassination, and for this reason launched a pogrom, killing and wounding the faithful, destroying and burning churches, schools, social centers, homes. From Orissa, the violence is spreading to Madya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala.
According to the All India Catholic Union, so far the violence in the state of Orissa alone has killed 45 and wounded 18,000; 5 are missing. 56 churches, 11 schools, and 4 NGO offices have been destroyed; 300 villages have been attacked; more than 4,000 homes have been burned or destroyed, forcing more than 50,000 people to flee. Of these, 40,000 are still hiding in the forest; 12,000 are sheltered in the refugee camps provided by the government.
Since the founding of the Church until our days, Divine Providence has always called illustrious men, who by their knowledge and sanctity have conserved and defended the truths of Catholic Faith against the attacks of heretics.
Among these men shines St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), who was celebrated for his teachings and polemic works as well as for his virtue and zeal for the Church. In truth, it would seem that the holy Cardinal had received from God the threefold gift of teaching the people, guiding the faithful, and confounding the Protestant heretics of the 16th century, a time when Protestantism was growing and spreading.
He was great as a preacher, professor and polemicist, receiving the title of 'hammer of heresies' from Benedict XV. He wrote prodigiously, and to understand the worth of his books one need only read what St. Francis of Sales, his contemporary and friend, said about them: 'I preached five years in Chablais with no other books than the Bible and the works of the great Bellarmine.'
His most famous work is The Controversies, a collection of the lectures he delivered at the Roman College. In it he set out the teaching of the Fathers, the Councils and the Church Law to victoriously defend the dogmas attacked by the Protestants. Clear, balanced, and forceful, this work is so well done that many considered it insuperable. When it was published, it raised as much joy among Catholics as hatred among the Church's enemies. Theodore of Baise, a Protestant leader, used to say: 'This is the work that defeated us.' Given the number of conversions for which it was responsible, reading it was forbidden under penalty of death in England by Queen Elizabeth. Only doctors of theology were permitted to read it.
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
Permit me to provide another fact from his life: St. Robert Bellarmine was the spiritual director of St. Louis Gonzaga. This alone would be honor enough in the life of a man.
What can be said about St. Robert Bellarmine? He was praised as 'the hammer of heresies.' There was a time, before Vatican II, when this was a great eulogy. Pope Benedict XV granted him this title. Various other great saints who worked considerable damage on the heresies received similar epithets. He wrote many books demonstrating the Catholic truth and attacking the heretics. His arguments were forceful and hard, but they converted many of them.
Theodore of Blaise, an important Protestant leader who succeeded Calvin, was fearful of St. Robert Bellarmine's work. This man had a famous debate with St. Francis of Sales. Elizabeth I, the Queen of England, was also in panic over his works, given the number of conversions they had occasioned. She was so fearful that she decreed that whosoever was not a doctor in theology was forbidden to read his works.
St. Robert Bellarmine understood that one cannot do away with a heresy only by preaching the truth. It is also necessary to attack and smash the error. Using this method he converted heretics, bringing them back into union with the Church. When the Catholic Church canonized him, she approved this method. She said that St. Bellarmine had practiced all the virtues in a heroic degree. Therefore, he acted according to charity, since it is one of the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity. He also acted according to justice and prudence since they are included in the four cardinal virtues: justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude. If his method was wrong, the Church would not have canonized him.
This is an important point to remember, since from the time of Vatican Council II, we have been taught that to attack heresy and heretics is harmful to the union of the churches. According to this conciliar mentality, every work of apostolate should praise and applaud the heretics, and never forthrightly combat their errors. The life of St. Robert Bellarmine proves precisely the opposite.
It is also interesting to note the presence of harmonic contrasts in the life of St. Robert Bellarmine. He was a champion of orthodoxy and a great fighter, but at the same time he was a man able to direct the sensitive soul of St. Louis of Gonzaga, and guide him to sanctity. St. Louis Gonzaga was very pure and so concerned about guarding his chastity that some bad persons close to him spread that he was unbalanced. St. Robert Bellarmine was the one who understood that difficult-to-understand soul, knew how to deal with him and to guide him to become a masterpiece of sanctity.
Therefore, at the same time that he was a very busy polemicist, St. Robert Bellarmine made the time to direct souls and to write profound spiritual treatises that earned him the title of Doctor of the Church. This capacity to revert back and forth from the middle of a fight and the direction of souls, along with maintaining a spirit of meditation to write his books, is only possible when a man has a great calmness of spirit. This calm is, in a certain sense, one of the most profound notes of the soul of St. Robert Bellarmine.
Let us admire such a great saint and ask him to do with each one of us what he did with St. Louis Gonzaga, that is, to lead us on the road of sanctity.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Christian Schools in Raigad District targeted by the local Education Department as they were closed on August 29 in solidarity and support of the Orissa victims.
This ridiculous circular issued by the Block Education Officer Raigad District questioning the patriotism and nationalism [ copy of the circular below] and summoning the school principals for a meeting on September 16 to discuss questions which are as follows:
1. Is the national anthem sung in your school? (Authors note - This is a practice done in all Christian schools)
2. Are the lessons on Saints taught in the school? (Authors note - I am sure they do not mean Catholic saints. Why should Christian schools teach about non-Christian 'saints')
3. Is Religion taught in your school? (Authors note - This is the sneaky one. If Christianity is taught in the schools then the local government will deliberately say that Christians are trying to forcibly convert the students. )
4. Are the pictures of the National Leaders displayed in your school and where? (Authors note - In my School National Leaders were framed on the wall along with the the Pope at the time)
We need to know the following from the Chief Minister / Education Minster of Maharashtra:
1. Is this Circular issued under the direction of the Education Minister?
2. Is this Circular being issued selectively to the Christian Schools?
We need to respectfully advise the concerned Government Authorities that the Christian Institutions are protected under the Constition under Article 30 which stipulates the rights of the minorities to establish, administer and run the Institutions of their choice.
We do not have to put the badge of patriotism on our shoulders as the work of the Institutions and Personnel is committed and involved in nation building by educating the children of all communities.
We therefore demand the following:
1. Immediate withdrawal of the said Circular.
2. Suspension of the concerned education official
3. We fear for the safety of the Institutions and the Personnel. Adequate police protection for all the Institutions in Maharashtra.
Needless to say, if our requests are not complied with, than the The Bombay Catholic Sabha will have no options but to launch a public agitation to protect our rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
THE BOMBAY CATHOLIC SABHA
St Michael's Church,
Mahim, Mumbai 400 016.
Tel: 24463853 / 9820226227
(The Author hopes that all protests and public agitations taken by the Bombay Catholic Sabah are peaceful following the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ)
MANGALORE Sept 15: The failure of the police to protect the Christian prayer halls despite prior information about the attacks, and the subsequent brutality on Christian protesters, were the two prominent features of the chaos that erupted in the city. Superintendent of Police (Dakshina Kannada) N. Sateesh Kumar admitted that the police had information that some pro-Hindu organisations were planning to attack Christian places of worship in the district.
He said this before a group of Christian leaders during a meeting at the Adoration Monastery, near Milagres, one of the eight payer halls to have been attacked on Sunday. "We had warned some institutions," he said and added that pickets were posted at strategic places in the city. Reacting to the statement made by Mr. Kumar, the Chancellor of the diocese of Mangalore Fr. Henry Sequeira said: "If the police knew about this in advance and still could not prevent the attacks, then we have no hope."
In an attempt to allay the fears of leaders Mr. Kumar said: "I will take this up as a challenge."
Kasargod (Kerala), Sep 15 (IANS) A missionary school, which was also used as a temporary church, was attacked in the Kasargod district in Kerala, the police said Monday.
The incident follows attacks on churches by suspected Bajrang Dal activists in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts in Karnataka, which neighbour Kasargod, the northernmost district of Kerala.
"The attack must have taken place Sunday night or early Monday morning," the vicar of St. Joseph's Catholic Church Punnoor Antony told IANS.
The church authorities found the window panes of the school smashed apart from some other damage.
As the church was under renovation, regular mass was being offered at Jayamatha School nearby.
"We closed the school after prayers Sunday evening. It was this morning we noticed the damage," Antony said.
Police said they had not made any arrests so far in connection with the incident.
"It could be the act of some mischief mongers, who wanted to create panic here," said Ramdas Pothan, Kasargod district superintendent of police.
"The police here are alert following attack on churches in Karnataka," Pothan said.
"We have already provided protection to churches located near the state border with Karnataka," he added.
(Article courtesy of Mangalore.com)
Today let us contemplate the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady by reading the commentary By Dr. Plinio Correa.
As the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady ends, the consideration of her suffering would not normally come to the mind of the faithful. But if someone would ask about the future of this child, we would recall that before being proclaimed blessed by all nations, Mary would suffer with her Son for the salvation of the world.
The voice of the liturgy invites us to consider her sorrow: “Ó all ye who pass by the way, attend,and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” This applies to her.
The sorrow of Our Lady is a work of God. He was the One who destined her to be the Mother of His Son. Therefore, He indissolubly united her to the Person, life, mysteries and sufferings of Jesus in order to make her His faithful companion in the work of Redemption. Suffering has to be a great gift, because God gave it to His Son and to the creature He loves more than any other after Him, Our Lady. He gave it as a most precious gift.
For Mary the suffering did not start at Calvary, but with Jesus, “that incommodious child,” as Bossuet called Him, because wherever He went, he entered with His Cross and with His thorns which He distributes to those He loves.
The prophecy of the aged Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Divine Child in Jerusalem, the carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the taking down from the Cross, and the burial of Jesus: these are the seven mysteries into which are grouped the well-nigh infinite sufferings which made Our Lady the Queen of Martyrs, the first and loveliest rose in the garden of the Spouse.
Above all, this solemn day shows us Mary on Calvary, and reminds us of that supreme sorrow among all the sorrows that ran through the life of Our Lady. The Church gave this feast the title of Seven Sorrows because this number expresses the idea of totality and universality.
To understand the extent and intensity of the suffering of Our Lady, we need to understand the extent and intensity of her love for Jesus, because her love increased her suffering. Nature and grace concurred to produce in Mary’s heart profound impressions. Nothing is stronger by nature than the love a mother has for her son, and by grace the love one has for God.
There are so many excellent thoughts in this selection by D. Guéranger that I could be tempted to prolong these comments. I will not do so, but will just select some ideas that he offers us.
The first is that since God loved His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with an infinite love and loved Our Lady with a lesser love, but still greater than His love for any other creature, He reserved for them His highest love. For this reason He gave them that vastness of crosses represented by the number seven. Seven sorrows is understood as all sorrows. Our Lady could be called the Lady of all sorrows because she suffered everything.
All generations call her blessed, but all generations also could call her sorrowful.
If this is so, we should understand better that when sorrow enters our lives it is a proof of the love God has for us. We should also realize that if sorrow does not enter our lives, we do not have this proof of His love for us. Therefore, we should not complain when sufferings come to us – nervous problems, difficulties in our apostolate, misunderstandings with our friends, problems at home, poor health, business troubles. We should accept these things as normal, as a proof of the love of Divine Providence for us.
When I see a person without maturity, stability, rationality, elevation of spirit, I think that what he is lacking is suffering. These qualities only come with suffering - much suffering.
If we receive such trials, certainly we should pray for them to end. But to the measure that they remain, we should thank God and Our Lady.
I would also like to stress those extraordinary words of Bossuet who called Our Lord: “that incommodious child.” All those who follow Our Lord are incommodious. When you give a good counsel, offer a good example, ask for a sacrifice, the face of the person you are addressing will let you know that he considers you bothersome. It would be easier and more pleasant to tell a joke, to tease a bit, and close the matter with a pat on the back, dispensing the person from his duties.
Sometimes we have to command. How easy it would be to command if we did not have to ask a subordinate to take things seriously, to see reality at its most profound depths and in its most elevated aspect. How simple it would be if we did not have to ask him to face his own spiritual life without cowardice and keep careful watch over his defects. All this causes bother. The burden of being incommodious is one of the heaviest weights we have to carry.
Maintaining joyful resignation in face of the annoyance we cause because we represent Catholic duty, and having the courage to be incommodious in every circumstance is the path we are called to take in order to follow Our Lord.
These are the virtues that on the day of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady we should ask her to give us.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Today is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Let us contemplate the comments of Dr. Plinio.
You know that in ancient times the cross was an instrument of torment. It was ignominious for any person to be crucified. It was a dishonor for the person as well as for his family. Aware of this, St. Paul asked not to be crucified because he was a Roman citizen, and Roman citizens were not subject to crucifixion. He was beheaded with a sword because this was a privilege of the Romans.
When Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, therefore, he suffered a terrible humiliation. That shame was meant to signify that He was a bandit, an outlaw of the same genre of the two thieves with whom He was crucified. In this sense the crucifixion was not only a humiliation, but the highest possible humiliation for any honest man.
You know that the Jews inflicted every humiliation they could upon Our Lord during His life. This corresponded to their increasing hatred for the good He represented. Finally they served to Him the supreme humiliation, which was the sacrifice of the Cross. With this they became the 'Deicide' people.
Their desire to humiliate Our Lord as much as they could became evident in the Passion. For example, the crown of thorns, the tunic of the fool, the cane they placed in His hands as a scepter, the persons who ridiculed Him and spit at Him, etc, express the desire to torment Him not only in His Most Sacred Body, but also in His Most Holy Soul.
The Cross of Our Lord became the starting point of all the humiliations that all Catholics would have to bear until the end times for the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The forces of impiety never set aside their weapons against the good. They are always seeking to humiliate and break the morals of the good. None of you have been free from these humiliations because of your fidelity to Our Lord. It is an honor for us. To be persecuted for the love of Jesus Christ is one of the beatitudes. All of us had suffered these humiliations and will suffer them to the end of History because of the continuous outrages the impious ones make against God.
But, in parallel, the honor of God, the honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is vindicated by the Church. Catholics take the Cross as a symbol of honor, as the most sacred and holy thing we have, as the symbol of our redemption. Because of this sentiment, on the top of every Catholic church a Cross is placed; on the top of the most majestic crowns, the Cross is planted.
Many of the greatest families have the Cross on their coat-of-arms. Catholic decorations that reward the heroic deeds of a military man or the generosity of a great benefactor have the shape of the Cross.
These are manifestations of the Catholic spirit which vindicate that humiliation; they vindicate it with chivalric panache, with supernatural panache. With this special manifestation of love, that is, a reaction against the outrage of the enemies, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
To exalt the Holy Cross is to glorify it. The word ex-altare in Latin means to elevate, to raise to a high place, which is to glorify.
The first sign of this was the apparition of the Cross in the sky to Constantine before the battle of Milvia Bridge. Above that Cross was written these words In Hoc Signo Vinces – Under the sign of the Cross you will conquer. That Cross which appeared in the sky for the first time then would remain on the horizon of all mankind throughout History, humiliating the evil ones and the devils.
The Cross would also be the sign of our honor. Our honor does not lie in avoiding humiliations, but in receiving them with panache and a spirit of challenge. To those who humiliate us, we should respond as knights and we should glorify the Cross of Our Lord even more proudly.
This is what exaltation means. It is to proclaim the glory of God in face of the attempt of His enemies to humiliate Him. Our attitude should smash the enemy's attempts to humiliate Our Lord.
There is an ejaculation in the litany of the rogations, which is this: Ut inimicus Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae humiliare digneris, Te rogamus audi nos– That Thou wouldst deign to humiliate the enemies of the Holy Mother Church, we beseech Thee, hear us. So, the Church teaches us to pray for the humiliation of our enemies. Therefore, the best way to respond to the enemies who attempt to humiliate the Cross of Our Lord and His followers is to humiliate those enemies; it is to humiliate those who inflict humiliations.
Doing this, we rescue the Cross that lays in the dust of the despised, and raise it to the highest place. We glorify what had been humiliated. This is the essence of the exaltation of the Holy Cross.
False and sentimental piety takes an opposite position regarding the Cross. It never thinks of the counter-attack Catholics should make to exalt the Cross. The man with this sentimental mentality only cultivates syrupy sentiments regarding the Cross and if he ever considers its enemies, it is to flee from them under the pretext that he is forgiving them. With this mentality the Church will never have the true exaltation of the Holy Cross.
To the contrary, when someone tries to humiliate the Cross, we must respond with an even stronger counter-attack. Not in defense of our honor, but in defense of the honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ.