New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, October 4, 2008

St. Francis of Assisi - 4th Ocotber 2008

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, let us read and contemplate what Dr. Plinio Correa has to say about the founder of the Franciscan Order.

Biographical Section

In the summer of 1215 St. Francis with a small group of friars were in Rome seeking approbation for his Rule. One night during his stay while Francis was praying, he saw Our Lord prepared to unleash most terrible chastisements upon the world. His Most Holy Mother was making an effort to placate Him, asking His mercy and forgiveness. For this purpose, she presented two men who would labor for the conversion of the world and return a countless number of lost sheep to the fold. Francis recognized himself as one of these apostles. He did not recognize the other one, however.

The following day, he was in one of the churches of Rome when suddenly an unknown person came up to him, embraced him, and said: “You are my companion, we will work together, supporting one another toward the same end, and no one will prevail against us.” Francis recognized him as the other man in the vision. It was St. Dominic, who had also received a similar vision. When he saw Francis in that church, he immediately went to greet him, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Sometime after this encounter, Francis and Dominic assisted at a service at St. John the Lateran Basilica where a famous preacher was giving a sermon. It was Fr. Angelo who later would die a martyr in Sicily. As he preached, Fr. Angelo saw Francis and Dominic in the audience. Moved by a grace, he stopped, looked at them, and announced with prophetic words that the two would be strong columns of the Church.

At the end of the ceremony, St. Angelo waited for them, embraced them, and told them the favors God had reserved for them. The two founders, in turn enlightened by a supernatural grace, revealed the principal events of the life of St. Angelo. As the trio left the church, they came upon a leper begging there. The three gave a simultaneous blessing to the poor man, which restored him to health.

(St Francis receiving the Stigmata by Giotto)

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

This narration is so beautiful that I feel embarrassed to comment on it. But since I have the obligation to say some words to you regarding it, I will do so.

You see the splendor of the scene. St. Francis and St. Dominic both received visions that allowed them to recognize one another. So when St. Dominic saw St. Francis in one of the churches of Rome, he went to him and embraced him. They both expressed their enthusiasm for the mission each had received and for the fact that they would support one another. This was the embrace of two souls, each one with every reason to hold the other in the highest esteem: on one hand, because their missions were very similar; on the other hand, because they were very different.

According to Catholic criteria, a great similarity leads to friendship, but so also does a great dissimilarity when it is not the dissimilarity of opposition, but rather one that is complementary. One had something that the other was lacking. Together they constituted a harmonic ensemble. For this reason, they admired one another.

Both saints had a profound Marian devotion. St. Francis was a great palatine of the Immaculate Conception centuries before it was defined as dogma. The Franciscans would spread that truth throughout the world. St. Dominic was the great apostle of the Rosary. Through the devotion of the Rosary the Dominicans would effect immediate and spectacular conversions. The Dominican is the Order of the Rosary par excellence. So, from the Marian perspective, there is a great similarity in the Orders.

However, even with this similarity of mission, there are also differences. The two Marian devotions represent in the minds of the faithful two different floods of light. Still, they are convergent lights, because it is not unusual for the person who believes in the Immaculate Conception to pray the Rosary, and vice-versa.

This balance between similarity and dissimilarity can also be noted in another point. The Dominican Order was called to convert persons by speaking to their will through their intelligence. It is clear that part of the Dominican mission is an intellectual work – the study and teaching of philosophy, theology, and apologetics. On the contrary, the dominant note of the Franciscan Order is to move the will through a manifestation of zeal. The great conversions of the Franciscans came about through the consideration of the Wounds of Our Lord, His Passion, His poverty and spirit of sacrifice. Once again, they are harmonic differences that merge in the spirit of the faithful. A Catholic instructed in the arguments of apologetics by the Dominicans should also be touched by the fervor of the Franciscans.

That embrace in a church of Rome, therefore, was not just the embrace of two saints, but something more. It was the missions of the two Orders that embraced in that moment. The two Founders were like the two hands of God uniting their efforts to work on this earth, to bring holiness and happiness to men and glory to the Catholic Church.

This was further completed by the presence of a third saint. The saint who preached from the pulpit was so famous that both Francis and Dominic came to hear him. In the middle of his sermon, St. Angelo sees what it is not given to human eyes to see: he sees the future of St. Francis and St. Dominic and how they would become strong columns of the Church and Catholic Civilization, which was threatening to crack and break.

Finally, the three men met and embraced at the end of the office. What did the Carmelite preacher St. Angelo bring to that embrace? He brought what was missing: martyrdom. He brought his acceptance of the holocaust and immolation of his very life in honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ and as a witness to the truth of the Catholic Faith.

Simplifying the picture, then, we have wisdom, charity and martyrdom that merge in that encounter and work a miracle. A leper was at the door of the church begging. Leprosy was the worst and most incurable illness of the time. The three Saints made a joint blessing over the leper, and the man was cured. This symbolized a Christendom that was becoming leprous and which, by the action of those saints, was restored to health.

This is how we can understand the first part of the selection. The Revolution was installed in Christendom and Our Lord was ready to release His punishments. But Our Lady intervened, pointing to the mission of those two men, and she obtained the postponement of that chastisement, because the action of the Revolution would be deferred by the action of those two saints.

In the 15th century the Revolution entered again with new force. Why did this happen? Did God call another man to halt it? In this case, we would be facing the possibility that a new St. Francis was called and did not correspond to his vocation. Or perhaps the man corresponded and became a saint – St. Vincent Ferrer, for example – but the people did not correspond to his appeal. We do not know. What is certain is that from the 15th century on, the collapse of Christendom has been continuous.

We can see the preventive counter-revolutionary action of St. Francis of Assisi. By means of humility, purity and austerity, he put a brake on the pride and sensuality of his times.

We should ask St. Francis, through the grand union he has with Our Lady, to obtain for us a great spirit of humility and mortification so that we stop thinking about ourselves and think only on the Catholic cause, without the desire to appear, shine, or have fun. It should suffice for us only to know, love, serve and glorify Our Lady through our whole life. We should also ask him to help us fight with all our forces to destroy the Revolution, which he helped to counter-attack in his times.

(Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Feast of the Guardian Angel - 2nd October 2008

Today is the feast of the guardian angel. Let us read what Dr. Plinio Correa says about guardian angels.

Is the Guardian Angel Less Intelligent than the Demon?

The Church teaches that God created angels vastly superior to man. Pure spirits possessing a most lucid intelligence and great power, they surpass by nature even the most gifted of men. As a consequence of their revolt, the fallen angels lost their virtue, but not their intelligence or power. In accord with His Divine Providence, God restrains their activity. However, they remain far superior to man, by nature.

Accordingly, the Church always approved artists’ depictions of the demon as an intelligent, shrewd, astute and powerful being, although full of malice in all his designs. She even sanctions his portrayal as a creature with captivating charms, reflecting the qualities that the spirit of darkness exploits to disguise himself so that he may seduce men.

Our first picture is an example are such presentation of the demon. Diabolical and shrewd, astute with a penetrating psychology and full of guile, the demon suggests, in a beguiling manner, thoughts of perdition to slumbering Dr. Faust. This is the classical depiction of the devil. We can hardly imagine him otherwise.

However, how are faithful angels portrayed today?

They are shown as well-intentioned, happy and innocent beings. This is in conformance with their eminent sanctity, blessedness, and purity.

Nevertheless, such depictions lack proper balance by emphasizing the goodness and purity of the faithful angels, while failing to convey their admirable intelligence, strength and majesty. Instead, they are often painted as weak creatures with no hint of courage.

Our second picture shows a child crossing a wobbly bridge. A guardian angel is protecting her.

Naturally, the idea of a child continuing her carefree walk lovingly guarded by a celestial Prince is quite touching. Still, if we pay closer attention to this prince, especially his countenance, does he not lack the strength, intelligence, acuteness, and agility proper to angelic nature, as present in every portrayal of the Prince of Darkness?

Examine the body of the good angel in the painting. Observe the soft, unintelligent and slackened attitude. Compare it to the lithe agility and alertness of the demon.

Could the contrast be any sharper?

Does it make sense?

By insistently representing the demon as intelligent, lively and capable; and the good angel as soft, expressionless and almost foolish, what impression is conveyed to the public?

One impression is that the practice of virtue results in creatures lacking in backbone and sense, while, on the contrary, vice is the practice of powerful and intelligent beings.

Thus we see yet another example of the deception which romanticism continues to exercise profoundly over many religious ambiences.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

St. Therese of the Child Jesus - 1st October 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

On September 30, 1897, a 24-year-old nun lay dying in the Carmelite Convent in Lisieux, France. She had done so little in her life that one of sisters remarked that while she was charming, what would Mother Superior write about her at her death in the report she would make for the community?

The question is amusing to us now. For the fame of this young nun would spread beyond the Convent and throughout the Church with remarkable speed. One year after her death, her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, was published. Her devotees multiplied as miracles were worked and favors granted through her intercession. During World War I French pilots carried a photo of her in their aircrafts to protect them.

In less than 30 years, in April of 1923, Pope Benedict XV declared her Blessed, and in 1925 Pius XI canonized her and named her feast day October 3. St. Pius X called St. Therese of the Child Jesus one of the greatest saints of modern times. In less than a century, she had become one of the most popular saints throughout the world.

A visage that reveals a great self-mastery

There is a popular iconography that represents St. Therese in statues and pictures with ruby lips, rosy cheeks, and an expression of sentimental piety and sanguine sweetness on her face. I am not a fan of this school of art that represents the saints like fairy tale figures stripped of character. To know St. Therese, it is best to contemplate her real face, since we are fortunate to have many pictures of her.

When her sister Celine entered the Lisieux Carmel in 1894, she brought her camera and photography equipment. Although the camera was banned in many Convents of the time as frivolous, Celine was permitted to pursue the hobby, and so today we have the 41 pictures in which St. Therese figured, either alone or in a group.

What does the face of the real Therese reveal? It is a physiognomy that is delicate but strong, sweetly serene but intensely reflective, a face stamped with the tranquil acceptance of suffering and the life of the Cross. There is the strong chin, the firmly set lips with a hint of smile, a gaze that has lost nothing of its childhood innocence and, at the same time, reveals a person who views the world without superficiality or optimism. In the real face of St. Therese, one sees a soul of character and the self-mastery of a saint.

Self-mortification – the means to self-mastery

Looking at her sweet smile, it is hard to believe that it was a hard-earned smile that only a great self-mastery maintained through both the small irritations and great sufferings she endured in her short life. It is worth pausing a moment here because this kind of self-mastery, earned by mortification of one’s will, is the exact opposite of what the modern world advocates. In various ways, we are led to believe that the strong and successful woman is the one who gets her own way, who makes a stunning career, who controls every situation.

St. Therese teaches something different. “To write books of devotion, to compose the most sublime poetry is of less worth than the least act of renunciation,” she wrote. That she had learned the value of small acts of self-mortification from the time she was young is evident throughout her biography.

For example, when she was ten-years-old, her father offered Celine painting lessons, and then turned to Therese to ask her if she would like them also. Before she could answer yes, her sister Marie remarked that Therese did not have the same gift for it as Celine. She held herself back and remained silent, offering her great desire for lessons as a sacrifice. Later, in her autobiography, she remarked, “I still wonder how I had the fortitude to remain silent.”

She maintained this spirit in her years at Carmel. In the convent laundry of Lisieux, for example, she worked opposite a Sister who would splash her with dirty water while washing the handkerchiefs. She refrained from her inclination to draw back and wipe her face to show the Sister how much this annoyed her. This may seem very small, but the self will is as well denied and curbed in small things as in great things, and sometimes more so when they go against the grain.

St. Therese explained this “Little Way” (2) with simplicity and candor:

“Far from being like to those great souls who from their childhood practice all sorts of macerations, I made my mortification consist solely in the breaking of my will, restraining a hasty word, rendering little services to those around me without making anything of it, and a thousand other things of this kind.”

The exterior demeanor influences the interior

In the face of St. Therese, her lips are set in the way of one who is accustomed to keep watch over herself, of smiling when she “feels” irritable or sad, of not allowing herself to be the slave of passing moods or fancies. From her, we learn an important lesson often ignored today by parents or teachers – the importance of the exterior demeanor as a means for controlling the interior.

She used to tell the novices that out of respect for the Angels we should always carry ourselves with dignity. She could not bear to see the least contraction on their faces, such as frowning. She told them: “The face reflects the soul. So it must always be calm and serene. That holds good even when you are alone, because you are always in the sight of God and his Angels.”

In her Story of a Soul, St. Therese explained how she formed the habit of conquering her moods:

“When things that are irritable or disagreeable befall me, instead of assuming an air of sadness, I respond by a smile. At first I was not always successful, but now it is a habit which I am very happy to have acquired.”

It was this habit that made her able to maintain a peaceful demeanor even during the horrible physical sufferings and terrible temptations against the Faith at the end of her life. Her expression then was so serene that one Sister doubted her suffering during her sickness and confronted her, asking her how she could keep the expression of joy on her countenance if she was suffering so much.

“It is because of the very acute pain I am feeling,” replied Therese. “I have always striven to love suffering, both small and great, and to give it a cordial welcome.”

Confidence, the weapon to fight discouragement

Someone might wonder: Didn’t St. Therese ever become discouraged over her small failings and inability to do the great things she desired for the love of God?

In fact, Therese had by her temperament a natural tendency toward discouragement. That she recognized this disposition is evident from the first of the three resolutions she made on her First Communion day: “I shall not be discouraged.”

The second resolution was “I shall say the Memorare to the Blessed Virgin every day;” the third was “I shall blot out my pride with humility.”

In Carmel, she wrote a beautiful prayer for a novice about humility. In it she said that she would wake in the morning with a strong resolve to conquer her pride; in the evening she would be discouraged knowing she had failed. Then she realized that this discouragement itself was but itself a form of pride, and this would make her more discouraged. It is the vicious circle many of us have experienced. St. Therese explains how the dilemma was resolved:

“Since it has been given to me to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus, I own that it has chased all discouragement from mine. The remembrance of my faults humiliates me, and urges me never to depend on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness. Still more does this remembrance speak to me of mercy and of love. When, with all filial confidence we cast our faults into the devouring furnace of love, how should they not be totally consumed?”

It was only confidence that could conquer discouragement and melancholy. “What offends Jesus, what wounds Him to the Heart,” she insisted to her novices, “is lack of confidence.”

She did not permit this reliance on divine mercy and confidence in the goodness of God to allow any kind of passivity in the daily battle. Once a novice was bewailing her lack of courage. St. Therese chastised her for the spirit that relies on the “feeling” of the moment:

“Where would your merit be if you fought only when you felt courage? What does matter if you have none, provided that you act as if you had! If you feel too lazy to pick up a bit of thread, and you nonetheless do it for the love of Jesus, you have more merit than some great accomplishment made in a moment of fervor.”

Confidence in the mercy and goodness of God does not release us from the obligation to fight the daily battles against our faults. But in fighting those battles, St. Therese found her support in it: “It is confidence, and confidence alone, that must lead us to love.”

She used to say that it was not because she had been preserved from mortal sin that she had so much confidence. Even if she had “committed every possible crime,” she said, she would have the same confidence. She would feel that this whole mass of sins would be like a drop of water thrown into a burning furnace. For if we know how to lay siege to His Heart, she insisted, we render Him blind to our lamentable deficiencies.

St. Therese composed this prayer, An Act of Holocaust as Victim of God’s Merciful Love on June 9, 1895, as an expression of her desire to be consumed by Divine Love.

If we do all that we can, she said, and offer this to the good God, in his justice and love He will supply the rest. “My way is all confidence and love,” affirmed St. Therese, telling us something we need to hear again and again, that we can never have too much confidence in the goodness of God.

Like St. Therese, we should not fear in these difficult days to ask Our Lady for everything: that she permit us to serve her in the defense of the Catholic Cause, that we might be saints, that the Church might be restored, that Her Reign might come, that Her Immaculate Heart be victorious.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

St. Jerome - 30th September 2008

It is the end of the month and today we celebrate the feast of St. Jerome. Let us read the commentary about this saint from Dr. Plinio Correa

(Under the Altar of St. Jerome is the resting site for the body of Bl. John XXIII.)

St. Jerome, Confessor and Doctor of the Church (c. 341-420) is considered the Church’s greatest Doctor of Scriptures.

He conferred this praise upon St. Augustine: “As I have done, you applied all your energy to make the enemies of the Church your personal enemies.” This eulogy is consistent with the counsel of St. Augustine: “You must hate the evil, but love the one who errs.”

Regarding St. Jerome the Roman Breviary says: “He pummeled the heretics with his most harsh writings.”

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

In the Catholic Church, St. Jerome is the representative par excellence of the polemical spirit, and in this sense he is a symbol against progressivist ecumenical dialogue. His writings are so straightforward, energetic, and intransigent that some people imagine that a saint could not write as he did. Almost everyone of his time trembled before him.

Once St. Augustine, with whom he had an ongoing correspondence, amiably told him that with half the energy St. Jerome used in one of his letters, he would already be convinced of his argument. I also remember that once I read that a pious lady sent St. Jerome a gift: some young doves and a basket of cherries. He wrote back asking her what she was thinking when she sent those delicate things to him. He was suspicious that she might want to corrupt the austerity of his penitent life. He immediately gave the presents to the poor.

One of my first encounters with Progressivism was with the reformist liturgical mentality that was being accepted by many monks in the Benedictine Monastery in Sao Paulo. I was talking with the Abbot and he told me that some works of St. Jerome were being read in the refectory of the monastery during the midday meal. He commented that the monks had become furious over the readings. In my naiveté, I thought that their hatred was directed toward the heretics St. Jerome combated, but I soon realized that I was wrong. Their hatred was against St. Jerome himself, because they had sympathy for the heretics.

The combativity of St. Jerome was an expression of his consuming zeal for the House of God. This kind of militancy is one of the most legitimate and saintly expressions of that zeal. Since his energy was inspired by love for God and not by personal resentments, it was a very holy thing. If force is exerted because of personal resentments, it is a completely different thing.

That saintly militancy made him a living sword of God. I know of no higher praise than to say that a man is the living sword of God, cutting, piercing, wounding, and destroying His enemies. St. Jerome represents the pinnacle of the polemic spirit, and as such he is the Patron Saint of the counter-revolutionary fight

His eulogy of St. Augustine about how he made the Church’s enemies his personal enemies is remarkable. It is one saint praising another one, and for this reason it can be said that the eulogy reflects the sanctity of the Church. The selection points out well that this aspect harmonizes perfectly with another apparently contrary one that can be seen in other words of St. Augustine: “We must hate evil, but love those who err.”

Today it is important that we have a clear understanding of what it means to love those who err. It is a liberal and ecumenical simplification to say that if one vigorously attacks those who err, he is harming these persons or showing a lack of charity. There are three reasons why this is not the case:

First, when a person is in grave danger of falling into an abyss, the right thing to do is to shout at him and say, “Be careful, you are at the edge of the cliff and if you fall, you will crack your head and die.” It would not be sensible to speak mildly, saying: “Hello there, I am standing in a much better place than you. Why don’t you come join me?”

This would be a foolish way to keep the man from falling into the abyss. The right way to rescue a man from danger is not to show the positive side of your position, but to expose the danger of his position and the imprudence of remaining in it.

Which one of you, seeing a man imprudently playing with a loaded gun and having his finger on the trigger, would gently suggest he play chess with you instead? It is a foolish attitude. The right thing is to address him sternly: “Look, stop playing with that gun or you might hurt yourself or me.” A man who is tempted to do something wrong needs to be addressed with words that inspire fear.

This is true above all when we deal with Catholic doctrine. Men are more easily moved by fear of bad consequences they can experience than a possible good they may enjoy. They are more easily moved by fear of Hell than by love of Heaven. Therefore, in order to convert a man, it is more charitable and expedient for us to first point out his error and its bad consequences, and then speak about the beauty and goodness of the truth. St. Jerome was a model of this way of acting.

I know that some rare souls may be touched by sweetness rather than combativity, but this is not the rule. It is the exception to the rule. God gives His Church saints who have special charismas to attract with amiability, such as St. Francis of Sales, who drew souls by his sweetness. However, the rule is to attack the evil to convert the person, as St. Jerome did.

Second, another simplification that the liberal and ecumenical spirit does not consider is that when we debate a heretic, a Protestant pastor for example, our primary goal is not to convert him, but to confirm in their Faith the Catholics who are following the debate and help them to not be contaminated by the Protestant errors. To this end, it is extremely advantageous to defeat the heretic.

The secondary goal of the debate is to convert the Protestants who are also following the debate and are not as obstinate in error as the pastor. The third and last aim is the conversion of the Protestant pastor, which should also be seriously considered. This is the correct hierarchy of aims in a debate of a Catholic with a Protestant. The progressivists simplify the topic enormously by saying that it is just a debate between A and B, and that the most efficient way to convert B is to smile and make concessions. It is not like that. By ignoring the two most important goals of the debate, a trap is set to lead people into a more progressivist and ecumenical mentality

Third, Our Lord, the divine model of sanctity, did not act with conciliation when he debated with the Pharisees. Instead, he called them as a generation of vipers, sons of Satan, whited sepulchers, etc. Also, when He came upon the money-changers in the Temple, He became indignant and used a whip to physically drive them out. That is, He used not only energy in the polemic against evil people, but He also used physical violence to punish the profaners.

The militant and polemic spirit of the great St. Jerome gives us the opportunity to see how Progressivism and the ecumenical spirit are sabotaging Catholic militancy everywhere. Today almost no one hears this Catholic doctrine taught in its entirety.

The progressivist Church avoids this teaching because it wants to push its agenda of ecumenism tending toward a spurious Pan-Religion.

We should certainly ask St. Jerome to help us in our counter-revolutionary polemics, but we should also and primarily ask him to help us destroy this liberal mentality that opens the door for the evil that is assaulting and taking over the entire Church.

Monday, September 29, 2008

An open letter from Fr. Cedric Prakash regarding the situation in Mangalore

Prashant . The Province Office for Integral Social Development of the Gujarat Jesuits . A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Post Box No. 4050,
Ahmedabad 380 009,
Gujarat, India
Tel. : +91 (079) 66522333, 2745 5913 .
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- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj *

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Greetings of Peace and Love to each one of you !

I have just returned from Mangalore, after spending five hectic days there, during which I met with, listened to and spoke to hundreds of youth, men and women; religious and clergy.

The days beginning Sunday, 14th September (the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross) have been very traumatic and painful for many across the board. "We never expected this to happen to us" is what several of you have been saying. Many others added "and we were totally unprepared".

During the days there, I experienced the pain and suffering of several of the victims: those who were in the midst of teargas, those who were beaten up and brutalized by the brute force and insensitivity of the police, and even of those who spent some days in jail / police custody. The underlying feeling throughout was, "this violence was just too terrible for words".

It was also heartwarming to know how several of you literally stood firm to protect the Church and Church property. I have been tremendously edified by the heroics of many women (very specially Religious Sisters) who boldly faced the onslaught of violence. I was touched by the fact that several youth went to jail for no wrongdoing whatsoever, but only because their names were handed over to the police officers, who demanded that this be done.

I salute each one of you who have exemplified faith, courage and dignity to preserve the diversity and the secular fabric of our country.

Having said this, I need to share with you some of my reflections on the current happenings in Mangalore and other parts of Karnataka. What I write here is essentially based on the sharing of many and in no way should be misconstrued as "final words". I also share them because as a citizen of India, I feel I have a responsibility to do so :

¨ The attacks on Churches and Christians is NOT a "one off" affair. It is part of a systematic long term project of the Sangh Parivar, who have an insidious, divisive agenda based on a fascist ideology.

¨ During these attacks, the fascists have effectively used age old tactics like "hit-and-run", "divide- and-rule" (it's not "you" but "they"), "diverting-from-the-real-issue" (illegal conversion, foreign funds, etc.)

¨ It is blatantly obvious that they have trapped us in their subterfuge. We have fallen prey to their evil designs.

¨ What perhaps went awry in their plans, was the groundswell of response, from the Catholic Laity - very specially the youth. This spontaneous response, both, on September 14th and 15th, certainly put them on the back foot.

¨ The ringing (pealing / tolling) of Church bells was a terrific strategy used on the part of the Catholics on both days. In doing so, we were reminded that God is with us and that we need to come together / remain united in the face of crisis. (At times during the Nazi regime, the Resistance Movements in parts of France also used to ring the Church bells in times of danger).

¨ The Police had no business to enter Church property, and very specially the Sacred Precincts of our Churches. There is enough of documentary evidence to show how police have beaten up and brutalized people even inside Churches and severely damaged Church property.

¨ No acts of violence can and should be justified. However, it is anyone's guess as to who threw "the first stone" and to what extent were the Catholic youth actually involved in stone throwing.

¨ In some Parishes, the police asked for a list of names of youth who they could arrest, and unfortunately, these were given, even when the youth were just sitting silently in the Church compound.

¨ On the very first day, members of the Sangh Parivar took responsibility for the attacks. This would not have been possible if they did not have the full patronage of the State Government and the support of BJP higher-ups. Government Officials and Police, clearly acted as footstools for the whims and fancies of their political masters.

¨ A few days before these attacks, a highly inflammatory and defamatory booklet was printed and distributed outside the gates of several educational institutions in Mangalore. The booklet held the Christians responsible for the killing of the Swami in Orissa. The police did nothing to stop those responsible for the publishing and distribution of this booklet.

¨ The Sangh Parivar with all its affiliates, is a fascist organization. They are out to destroy the secular fabric of the country. They DO NOT represent the vast majority of the Hindus of the country. It is DANGEROUS and ABSOLUTELY IMMORAL, to enter into any negotiations or deals or agreements with them. When one does so, one provides them a legitimacy which they desperately hanker for. One is manipulated into a vulnerable position carefully designed by them ("you are also criminals like us"). Above all, it is a tremendous letdown to the wider community that looks up to us to take a stand which is based on "truth" and "justice".

¨ Large sections of Indian (Hindu) society, regard the Sangh Parivar as a terrorist group and would like that they be BANNED.

¨ The dharnas / demonstrations by the Catholics have proved that "Satyagraha" (the force of Truth) given to us by Mahatma Gandhi is a very effective weapon to counter hate, prejudice and violence in this country.

In the context of the above, I would like to make the following suggestions / remarks :

Ø The machinations of the Sangh Parivar are going to continue for a long time. Please don't be fooled if there are utterances that it's all over.

Ø It is important to document / study / analyze the way they work. This should be done through well established Resources Centres which can also serve as nodal points in times of crisis.

Ø We need to carefully study the various statements of the Chief Minister and Home Minister (check his blog) of Karnataka. There are several contradictions in them. Do remember that fascists always indulge in techniques which are Goebbelsian. "Tell a lie a thousand times and people tend to believe it"

Ø We need to be a Communicating Church with a very effective coordinating mechanism in which power and responsibility is shared at every possible level and specially among all sections of the laity.

Ø We need to SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER...(The bold statements made by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, to the Chief Minister of Karnataka is an excellent example for all of us to emulate.).

Ø We need to formulate responses and strategies for the long term. We need to set OUR agenda, very specially to preserve and enhance the Constitutional Rights and Freedom of every single citizen (the Sangh Parivar tries to make us reactionaries to their devious agenda).

Ø We should not give up any of our routine programmes / functions / celebrations. Every effort has to be made to show the fascists that we are citizens of this country with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to every citizen.

Ø Our response has to be broad based. It should certainly include all ethnic groups within the Catholic Community. It should include all denominations of the Christian Faith (eg. at the National level, we do have the 'National United Christian Forum' and in Gujarat we have the 'Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights').

Above all, it should include all men and women of goodwill. In this last category, we will have thousands of young men and women

belonging to every faith, who have passed through the portals of our Educational Institutions, and who even hold important positions in Society,

in Government and in Industry. They MUST be part of this broad based response.

Ø Those policemen responsible for these heinous acts should be brought to book immediately for dereliction of duty. There is an understandable fear among members of the community from doing so, fearing revenge, but unless some beginning is made by civil society, we will never be able to make the police accountable and in adhering to their sacred mandate that of protecting the life and property of every single citizen.

Ø All others responsible for the attacks on Christians and the Churches MUST be brought to book immediately and the Government must be held responsible for this. If not, they will be miserably failing in their prime duty.

Ø All Catholic youth who have been arrested should be released immediately and all charges against them should be dropped unconditionally.

Ø A totally empowered and equipped Nodal Agency (Coordinating / Monitoring Office) must be set up immediately. It should have four specific teams : i) Legal ii) Media iii) Investigation and Research iv) Training / Awareness generation. All these teams need to work in tandem with each other and also network with other likeminded individuals / groups, locally, nationally and internationally. The Nodal Agency and Teams, should consist of competent individuals who are fearless and willing to take strong stands for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, and against the fascist forces.

Ø The attacks on the Christians in Karnataka, together with those of Orissa and other parts of India must be internationalized. The Central and State Governments must get missives from countries who are friendly with India. Above all, the Chief Minister and the Home Minister must be blacklisted by Democracies all over the world and (as is currently done for Narendra Modi of Gujarat), they should be denied Visas for any travel abroad.

Ø A Citizens Tribunal consisting of eminent people from all walks of life (and preferably non-Christians), must be set up immediately. Mangalorean Catholics will have to provide the financial resources and logistical support for this Citizens Tribunal.

Above all, DO NOT PANIC....DO NOT FEAR. The Lord is with us and has told us over and over again that we should " FEAR NO ONE " on this earth....

Let us hold our heads high and cherish the eternal values given to us by Jesus. The Indian Constitution also guarantees many of them. We should not allow anyone to treat us as second class citizens ....Being an Indian Citizen is our BIRTHRIGHT !

With warm wishes and prayers,

In solidarity,
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

* (Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of PRASHANT, the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. For his involvement in issues related to Human Rights, Justice, Communal Harmony and Peace, he has received several national and international awards which include the Legion d' Honneur from the Government of France and the Kabir Puraskar and Minorities Rights Award 2006 from the Government of India . He is also the Convenor of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights apart from holding several other responsibilities.)

Feast of St Michael the Archangel - 29th September 2008

Let us read the commentary from Dr. Plinio Correa about St. Michael the Archangel.

The Church considers St. Michael, who stands between mankind and the Divinity, as the mediator of her liturgical prayer. God, who made the visible and invisible hierarchies with an admirable order, makes use of the ministry of the celestial spirits for his glory. The angelical choirs, who contemplate ceaselessly the face of the Father, know, better than men, how to adore and contemplate the beauty of His infinite perfections.

The Church on earth also invites the celestial spirits to praise and glorify the Lord, to worship and ceaselessly adore Him. This contemplative mission of the Angels is a model for us, as St. Leo reminds us in the beautiful preface of his Sacramental:

“It behooves us to render graces to Thee, who teaches us through Thy Apostle that our life is directed toward Heaven; that Thou dost benevolently desire that our spirits are transported to the heavenly region, the home of those whom we venerate, and that especially on this day, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, we ascend to these heights."

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

St. Michael is the chief of the Angels who fought against the Devil and the bad Angels and threw them into Hell. He is the chief of the Guardian Angels of individuals, and also of institutions. He himself is the Guardian Angel of the institution of all institutions, which is the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. He has, therefore, a mission of tutelage. Regarding such mission, we can ask what relation exists between St. Michael’s first mission of defeating the revolted Angels and the protection he gives men in this valley of tears.

The two missions are linked. God wanted St. Michael to be His shield against the Devil in the first celestial fight. He also wants St. Michael to be the shield of men against the Devil, and the shield of the Holy Catholic Church as well. But St. Michael does not limit himself to be a shield of protection. He is also a sword to defeat and hurl the enemy into Hell. It is a double mission that is correlated.

For this reason, in the Middle Ages St. Michael was considered the first knight, the celestial knight: faithful, strong, and pure as a knight should be. He was also victorious, because he put all his trust in God, and after the birth of Our Lady, all his confidence in her.

It is this admirable figure of St. Michael whom we should consider our natural ally in the fights in which we are called to engage in defense of the honor of God, Our Lady, the Holy Church and Christian Civilization. With St. Michael as our model, we should defend them as a shield, and attack their enemies as a sword in order to destroy the Devil’s empire and establish the Reign of Mary on this earth. St. Michael should be our special patron.

The selection points to a particular aspect of devotion to the Angels that should be stressed. The Angels are inhabitants of the celestial court who continuously see God face-to-face. The apex of angelic and human happiness is to contemplate God, and this is the essence of life in Heaven; it is what makes Heaven the motherland of our souls. God continuously manifests new aspects of Himself that suffuse the Angels with happiness.

In epochs of true faith, something of this heavenly happiness filtrates to earth and is communicated to some pious souls, who, in their turn, express it to the entire Church and incorporate it into her spiritual treasure for us to share. Today we sorely lack this sense of heavenly happiness and, therefore, we have less appetite for Heaven. Many persons only have an appetite for earthly things. If they could understand for only one moment the consolation that comes from the consideration of heavenly things, they would understand how provisory earthly goods are, how worthless they are, how other values far transcend them. If they understood these things, they would be able to remove themselves from their attachment to earthly goods.

But, in our days, people are enthusiastic about money, petty politics, worldly things, the trivial life and its little news. They are no longer elevated souls who are enthused by great doctrinal problems and celestial things.

What we are so greatly lacking today is precisely what the holy Angels can obtain for us. They are inundated with a heavenly happiness, which they can communicate to us. So, let us ask them to give us the desire for celestial things. This is an excellent thing to ask on St. Michael the Archangel’s feast day, that we might model ourselves after him and become the perfect knights of Our Lady on this earth.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

St. Wenceslas - 28th September 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of St Wenceslas. Let us read the biographical account and the commentary about this saint from Dr. Plinio Correa

(Statue of St Wenceslas)

Duke, sovereign and patron saint of Bohemia, Wenceslas practiced the most beautiful virtues. He conserved intact all his life the treasure of virginity. His brother Boleslas, inspired by his own mother, murdered him as he prayed one night before the tabernacle in the palace chapel. Hungary, Poland and Bohemia all chose him as their patron saint.

St. Wenceslas is one of the most brilliant lights of the 10th century, called the iron century. Grandson of a saint and son of a fanatical pagan mother, he was the purest expression of the Christian royalty of his epoch. His royal birth ensured him the highest honors and made him the lieutenant of Christ and His authentic representative on earth.

As chief of the great Bohemian family, the king was the father of his people, and all - from greatest to smallest - had the right to appeal to his justice. King Wenceslas was known as the irrefutable arbiter of justice whose decisions were unmarked by personal interest. Indeed, having received everything from God, he gave no account for his actions to any save God. He became known as a great peacemaker in the many disputes of his people with the aim of uniting all in the common good. He ended his short term as King by receiving the crown of martyrdom.

The fame of the virtues St. Wenceslas spread everywhere. He was admired and beloved throughout Christendom. He was known as a friend of his people, dedicated to the service of his nation, austere and generous, protector of the poor, defender of the Faith, and a faithful subject of the Church. He was also a fearless and loyal warrior.

In 961 Emperor Otto I of Germany called Wenceslas to the Diet of Worms and conferred every attention on him. One day Wenceslas was at prayer in church and lost track of the time. When he finally arrived at the assembly, the Emperor and other Princes, irritated by his delay, had resolved to not rise at his entrance, as was the custom for sovereigns.

When the Duke appeared at the threshold of the hall, however, the nobles saw that he was flanked by two Angels. Overcome by admiration and respect, the Emperor stood to receive him and gave him the place of honor at his right. How could the nobles deny this honor to him when the Angels themselves paid him their respects? As a sign of his consideration, the Emperor gave him two precious relics: an arm of St. Vitus and the bones of another valiant warrior-sovereign, St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy.

(Altar of St. Wenceslas by Angelo Caroseli, 1627-30)

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

This last episode is so expressive that it surpasses anything else in the selection. So I will analyze it.

Let us recompose the scene. Wenceslas was the Duke and King of Bohemia, and he probably had some authority in Poland, since this nation also took him as their patron. Thus his government covered a large territory. The highest Princes in the Holy Roman German Empire were called together to meet at the Diet of Worms. Wenceslas was also invited to this Diet, since his territories were probably subject in some way to the Holy Empire. It was a very important meeting because it was not just a gathering of a King with his subjects, but a meeting where the Emperor met with Kings and Sovereigns. It was an assembly of sovereigns, manly and courteous.

There was a beautiful custom already established at that time. When a sovereign would enter, even if he had a lower standing than the Emperor, all the sovereigns present - including the Emperor - would rise. In this particular case, since Wenceslas was late, the other sovereigns decided to not pay him this tribute. He was late because he was praying in the church. But there is an infallible rule: those who do not pray much take a stern attitude toward those who do. Whenever they can, they take their revenge. So, those nobles, who probably knew that the Bohemian King had lost track of time in prayer, resolved to punish him. To teach him a lesson, they would remain seated when he entered.

How did Divine Providence respond to this decision? God sent two Angels to accompany him, so that when he entered the hall all the nobles gathered there saw them flanking St. Wenceslas. Thus, instead of meeting disgrace, the Saint was covered with glory and honor. The Emperor gave him two precious relics, one of a Warrrior King who, like St. Wenceslas, had defended the Faith. How many beautiful things there are in this episode!

Just one question remains to be answered: Why don’t things like this happen today? Why don’t we have manifestations of the supernatural that cover the good with glory and smash the evil?

It is because the sins of mankind have reached such an apex that men no longer deserve such apparitions. The Angels who accompanied St. Wenceslas were not there principally for him, who probably did not even see them, but for the public who witnessed the miracle. It was for the good of others that they appeared. Today the public do not deserve such marvels. If Angels were to appear, they would most probably raise hatred in the onlookers, who would not change their positions. The hearts of the public today are as hard as stones, a state that only a chastisement can change.

When miracles like these no longer happen, it is the sign that Divine Providence has abandoned a certain people, a particular cycle of civilization, an historic era. Instead, it becomes marked by the sign of punishment.

Let us pray to St. Wenceslas to be prepared for the chastisements predicted by Our Lady of Fatima so that mankind will enter another age where God will be honored and glorified and miracles will again take place.

Competition Winner

We have a winner of the competition for the picture of Padre Pio.

The winner is Shirley who has her own blog at

Congrats to the winner, your picture will be in the post soon.