New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – 17 October 2008

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus comes to us from St Margaret Mary Alcoque. Let us read what Dr. Plinio Correa has to say about this great saint.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) received revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and spread this devotion.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

There is a post-history to report about the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary that concerns our times.

You know that the Sacred Heart of Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary in an epoch when the revolutionary process was already well advanced. From a certain point of view, it was an irreversible process. The Middle Ages had ended, even though some remnants of the old medieval social body were still present and going forward. It was also true that the corruption of customs had entered on all fronts, and with it, the revolution in the ideas. You can get a notion of the situation by studying the life of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort and some of his writings where he describes the apostasy of his times. It was a tragic picture,a precursor to the French Revolution.

At that historic moment, the Sacred Heart of Jesus intervened, manifesting Himself to a religious woman of the Visitation Order, who was St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque. He told her that He was opening a new source of graces for souls, devotion to His Sacred Heart. Whoever practiced this devotion would have more abundant and generous graces than in the past. It was a way to attract souls to conversion. This devotion took root and expanded within the Church, reaching its apex in the 19th century until 1925, that is, the early pontificate of Pius XI.

This devotion has been very well studied by various theologians and great doctors, among them St. John Eudes, who promoted it vigorously. It was well-received by Popes – Leo XIII made the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Churches built in cities everywhere in the 19th and early 20th centuries were dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a splendid devotion that did a great deal of good for souls.

This devotion began to be opposed on two fronts in the first years of the pontificate of Pius XI. This Modernism condemned by St. Pius X did not die, but entered a period of lethargy. Around 1924 or 1925 the same modernist heresy started to rear its head under the titles of Catholic Action and the liturgical movement. Many members of these movements started to combat devotion to the Sacred Heart in two different ways.

The first way, venomous but not the most efficient, was that in Catholic Action and liturgical milieus it began to be whispered that this devotion was sentimental and somehow effeminate, lacking theological content and acceptable only to poorly formed Catholics. If a person argued that the devotion had been approved by the Church, that St. Margaret Mary and St. John Eudes had been canonized, he would be put out of these movements. There was, therefore, a kind of defamatory campaign made against the devotion of the Sacred Heart.

Second, there was a more dangerous maneuver, which was to bury this devotion in a dense layer of silence. The devotion stopped being promoted and fell into oblivion. Churches were no longer built in honor of the Sacred Heart. The special devotions made in June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart, ceased to be promoted in many parishes. New devotions with suspicious theological content began to circulate.

Today, devotion to the Sacred Heart has almost completely disappeared in the Church. Like so many others, it was put aside, another treasure that almost no one pays attention to. It is a source of graces that Divine Providence opened to save the world, and it is abandoned.

When I was in France in the late ‘50s, I went to visit Paray-le-Monial, which is where the Sacred Heart appeared to St. Margaret-Mary. In times past, it was a very popular pilgrimage site. I found it empty and abandoned; almost no one was in the church, even though it was a good season.

In the front of the church was a Catholic bookstore that should have been spreading that devotion. I went there to buy a souvenir for my mother, who was a great devotee of the Sacred Heart, and didn’t find anything worthwhile. Instead I found some very beautiful souvenir cards with phrases of Rousseau and Voltaire. The great enemies of the Church were being promoted instead of the Sacred Heart. I was profoundly shocked to find such impious things in a place established by Our Lord for the salvation of the souls. To think that ingratitude had reached such a point.

The fact reminded me of the invocation from the Litany of the Sacred Heart, Cor Jesu, lancea perforatum – Miserere nobis; Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by the lance, have mercy on us. The Heart so filled with goodness, mercy, and forgiveness, the Vessel of all possible perfections that opened Itself to men, is perforated by mankind with a lance.

This rejection of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is more blameworthy than that of the centurion who perforated the Heart of the crucified Christ, from which blood and water poured out. The centurion was partially blind and when he pierced the Heart of Our Lord with his lance, some of that water and blood fell on him and cured him, and he converted.

Today an analogous sin is being committed by the Catholic world, but there is no blood and water that cures its blindness. The blind are leading the blind, and each day they are walking further into the abyss that you know.

Let us implore the Sacred Heart of Jesus through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that this situation end, and that both a new Christendom and a restored Holy Mother Church be reinstalled on this earth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

St. Teresa of Avila, 15 October 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of St Theresa of Avila. Let us read the commentary of Dr. Plinio Correa

Biographical selection:

Teresa was at the Carmel of Toledo when the King of Portugal, Dom Sebastian, was killed and his army defeated at the great battle against the Moors at Alcacer-Quibir in Morocco in 1578. The saint had a revelation regarding the defeat. She was deeply saddened and wept, since she greatly desired Christendom’s advance and its enemies conquered.

She complained to Our Lord: “My God, why did Thou permit the defeat of Thy people and the victory of Thy enemies?” Our Lord answered her: “If I found them prepared to be brought into My presence, why are you afflicted?”

Her feeling of sorrow dissipated as she considered the glory the soldiers killed in battle were already enjoying. She admired those warriors whom God had found prepared for eternal happiness, especially considering the normally lax habits of soldiers. Immediately she desired to extend her Carmelite reform to Portugal.

She ardently prayed to know the divine will, and on the Feast of the Assumption, an answer came. Our Lord told her:

“My daughter, you will not go to Portugal to found the houses of your reform. Your daughters and sons will do this in the future when I will end the chastisement inflicted on Portugal, and employ My mercy with this country. The increase in numbers of good religious will give me cause to raise Portugal from the misery into which it will have fallen, restore to it the happiness it enjoyed of old, and be the promise of future glories.”

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

The excerpt deals with two inter-related subjects: the defeat of Alcacer-Quibir in 1578, and the foundation of Carmelite convents in Portugal.

First, St. Therese was praying when God revealed to her that the King Dom Sebastian of Portugal [who reigned from 1557-78] suffered the great defeat of Alcacer-Quibir. This battle proved to be decisive on several points.

(King Dom Sebastian of Portugal)
* If King Dom Sebastian – a very pious and virgin King, the last flower of old Portugal – would have been victorious, he would have broken the power of the Moors. Portugal could have founded a prosperous colony in North Africa, which could have been the bridgehead for a Catholic Africa. This would have shaken the Muslim power all around the world.

The Mohammedans occupied the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey, all of Asia Minor, and parts of Africa, Egypt, Tunis, Tripolitania, Algeria and Morocco. At that time the most dynamic part of the Muslim power was in North Africa. Therefore, if the Portuguese army would have conquered North Africa, this would have made it easier for other Catholic kingdoms such as Spain and France to follow after it. Portugal already had a bridgehead in Fez; at Alcacer-Quibir it was trying to extend its military position. For this reason, Alcacer-Quibir was a decisive battle.

For that overseas battle, King Dom Sebastian had assembled a large fleet at Lagos with a numerous army of Portuguese nobles and soldiers. It is said that he made an imprudent military maneuver against the Moors. He was killed in the battle, and the Portuguese power was broken. On the other hand, the Islamic power consolidated itself and gained force.

* This was not only very bad for the conversion of the Islamic nations, but was also favorable to Protestantism. For, freed from the Catholic threat in Africa, the Muslims were better able to concentrate on their attacks against Austria and Hungary. For that purpose they favored the Protestants there and in other countries that were also enemies of Catholic Austria and Hungary.

* This catastrophe also spelled a disaster for the independence of Portugal. Dom Sebastian left only one heir, his uncle Cardinal Dom Henrique, who became King. He was dispensed by the Holy See from his vow of chastity so that he might continue the Avis dynasty. But he only reigned two years [1578-1580] and never had children. The Portuguese crown passed by right of succession to King Philip II of Spain. The Portuguese dynasty disappeared. Therefore, the death of Dom Sebastian at Alcacer-Quibir represented very heavy damages for Portugal.

* Realizing all this, St. Teresa became sad and wept. She asked Our Lord why he had allowed this defeat. His answer to her was that the army was spiritually so well prepared that He took most of them to Heaven. You can see that this answer of Our Lord was a little evasive. The full answer came when He said that the defeat had been a punishment, and that the good religious to come would be one means to defer the chastisement.

You can see that the topic of this episode between St. Teresa and Our Lord is essentially a political and military concern about Portugal. This stands in opposition to a certain sentimental sweet mentality about the lives of saints, which almost never considers such facets. Everything has to be spiritual. This sham pious spirit abhors dealing with Catholic politics and military interests; it falsely assumes that the spiritual is so high nothing else matters. The true saint, it insinuates, doesn’t care about political and military affairs. In the episode recounted above between Our Lord and St. Therese, you can witness the opposite.

Our Lord showed the military defeat of King Sebastian in a mystical revelation to the great St. Teresa because He wanted to talk about it with her. God had a great interest in that battle. When the Catholic cause loses, saintly persons are supposed to be afflicted, as St. Teresa was. The two conversed, and Our Lord revealed to History His divine reason for the defeat.

* It is interesting to consider how beautiful the designs of God are. How Divine Wisdom has an infinity of facets that the human intelligence can never completely encompass. He responded to St. Teresa’s question by telling her that most of the Portuguese troops had been prepared for death, and so He had taken them. You can see that even at the moment that God was chastising that nation, His goodness was taking into consideration the spiritual state of those combatants. Perhaps He would have changed the moment of chastisement had the soldiers not been so well prepared for a good death. You can see His care, His goodness, His mercy.

Second, let me say only a word about the Carmelite Order. St. Teresa had the special mission of spreading the reform of Carmel. The mission of the Carmelites was, by means of prayer and penance, to attract the graces of God to those countries where the Carmelite Convents existed. A second dimension of their mission was to win those graces for all Christendom, and, in a third dimension, for the whole world, to convert everyone to the Catholic Religion.

When St. Teresa saw that the Portuguese nation was so fervent, she desired to found a convent there. Her wish was excellent and pleased God, but He postponed the founding. Why? Only Divine Wisdom knows.

But one consideration is that the Portuguese people would need a certain time to accept Spanish supremacy once the crown of Portugal had been incorporated to Spain – I just mentioned that King Philip II received the crown as the legitimate heir after the death of the Cardinal Dom Henrique. If the Spanish Carmelites would have gone to Portugal then, at the time St. Teresa desired, bringing another novelty, they could well have been poorly received. A period for adaptation seemed to be necessary. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Our Lord delayed in sending the Spanish Carmelites to Portugal. After the union of the two kingdoms, the presence of the Spanish Carmelites in Portugal followed naturally and produced immense spiritual fruits.

As a conclusion, we can see how important it is to follow the events and news of our times to the measure that they are related to the salvation of souls, the Catholic cause, the defeat of the Revolution, and the glory and exaltation of the Holy Church. This should be for us an act of love of God characteristic of our counter-revolutionary vocation, since it is to act in present day events.

Let us ask St. Teresa to give us this invaluable grace.

(Walled city of Avila)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

St. Callistus of Huesca – 14 October 2008

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Callistus of Huesca, let us read what Dr. Plinio has to say in his commentary in the lives of the saints.

(Catholic Knights)

Biographical selection:

St. Callistus of Huesca was a valorous Spanish officer who became famous for his fight against the Moors in Aragon. He lived in the 10th century and died in 1003.

To assist the inhabitants of Aure valley in France against the enemies of Christianity, he and his companion in arms St. Mercurialis went there to defend them. Both died in combat. The Diocese of Tarbes, France, celebrates his feast day on October 15.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

At that time, the fight against the Saracens was still in its epic period when they were a great power that had not been virtually defeated. The Spanish Reconquista was just starting to give its great fruits, but at that time the future was uncertain.

In this period we see two military saints who fought side by side against the Moors. Because of their combativeness these two heroes were screened out of certain Books of Saints and hidden by that Sulpician sentimental school of piety that adulterates the lives of the saints by presenting only their soft and delicate facets. This is why almost no one knows about them. I am glad to comment on them to repair this flaw and fill the vacuum.

We can imagine the marvelous scene. On the top of a mountain the two saints are fighting together outnumbered by a large horde of Saracens. The sun is beginning to set and the last rays of its light shine on their metal armors and swords. A golden dusk covers the battle that ensues amidst a great clamor of weapons and shouts.

With strength and temperance, St. Callistus and St. Mercurialis fight side by side, giving and receiving tremendous blows, surrounded by enemies. They struggle as long as they can, but the final moment of their lives arrives. They say a last prayer and strike a last blow as a symbol of the rights of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady over the lands of France and Spain. Then their souls fly to the presence of God, where they receive their eternal reward, and the blood they shed makes the soil of France where it spilled sacred.

After their deaths, one can imagine the clamor of victory from the Saracens over the appearance that the Catholic Faith was smashed and the Cross was defeated by the Crescent.

But here we should consider that their sacrifice was known to other Catholics of the Reconquista and their fight until death was taken as a model. What they did strengthened those Catholics in their convictions and encouraged them to expel the enemies of the Faith from Catholic soil. Here we can understand how the adage “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians” is so true. The repercussions from their fight and deaths gave a new élan for the good cause over all Christendom. It was primordially a supernatural phenomenon, but it also produced a natural psychological reaction. In this sense, their defeat produced elements for the future victory.

I am stressing that the two Saints were defeated to oppose a certain triumphalist mentality that is not rare among Catholics and counter-revolutionaries. According to this mentality, we should never suffer defeats. Our fight should go from victory to victory until the complete triumph and installation of the Reign of Mary. This is a wrong mentality. Many times we are defeated. Since we are in a war against the Revolution and the enemies of the Church, it is normal that at times we win and, at other times, we be defeated. This is the rule of all wars.

When a Catholic understands this rule, he can transform the defeat into a spiritual victory, because martyrdom is a victory in the eyes of God. Our Lord said that there is no higher proof of friendship than a person who gives his life for another. These two warriors died for Our Lord, having the name of Our Lady on their lips. Even though St. Callistus of Huesca and St. Mercurialis died fighting and not enduring sufferings like typical martyrs, they are considered as such because several Popes gave a special privilege to those who died in the Reconquista against the Moors, as well as in the Crusades, to receive honors similar to the martyrs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

On this thanksgiving day let us give thanks to God the father for the most Sacred and Precious Heart of Jesus.

O Word of God,
dear Jesus our Redeemer,
we adore Thee and with hearts over-flowing
we thank Thee for having taken human flesh upon Thee
and become for our redemption both Priest and Victim
in the sacrifice of the Cross,
a sacrifice which,
through the exceeding love of Thy Sacred Heart,
Thou dost renew upon our altars at every moment.
O High Priest,
O Divine Victim,
give us the grace to honour Thy holy sacrifice
in the most adorable Eucharist
with the homage of Mary most holy
and of all Thy holy Church,
triumphant, suffering and militant.
We offer ourselves wholly to Thee;
of Thine infinite goodness and mercy
do Thou accept our offering,
unite it to Thine own
and grant us Thy blessing.

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning,
is now,
and ever shall be,
world without end.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

St. Alfonsa - India's first Woman saint.

The wonders and marvels of God never cease, while Catholics and Christians in India suffer under terrible persecutions, God our loving father has raised up a saint from India to lead us through this time.

The baptismal name of St. Alfonsa is Anna Muttathupadam; she was born on August 19, 1919, in Kudamaloor, in Kerala. Her mother died when she was a baby. At the age of 17 she entered the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception.

Her delicate health was held to be an obstacle in religious life and her superiors wanted her to return to her home; but Sister Alfonsa persevered in her vocation and made her perpetual vows in 1936. She died 10 years later at age 35.

In 1936, she took perpetual vows at the monastery of the Claretians of Malabar in Bharananganam.

Her work was teaching, but she soon had to leave it for health reasons. She bravely endured her illness until her death, on July 28, 1946. The bishop of Palai began the diocesan process of beatification in 1955, and on November 9, 1984, she was declared venerable. On February 8, 1986, Pope John Paul II beatified her in Kottayam, in India, together with another Indian blessed, Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

“This is a great moment for the Indian Church," says Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of the Indian bishops' conference, "God has raised up to the highest honour a person who the world considered useless and sickly. Today Blessed Alfonsa will be a living catechesis that the Catholic Church produces children who are holy bearing fruit, and in a twist of irony curing the sick, the humble one who understands the intimacy of union with Christ through suffering.”

The cardinal compares the life of the blessed with the experience of St. Teresa of Lisieux, in which the brevity of life marked by "physical suffering" is exalted by the "salvific dimension" that is present in faith in Christ, at a particular moment of the Indian Church, marked by the martyrdom and violence against Christians in many areas of the country.

"We live in a time," continues the president of the Indian bishops, "where the world wants to deny suffering and the cross, even the tremendous scientific and technological progress unfortunately are used to get rid to the suffering through any means there are other sinister developments. Some cast doubt on the right to life of the newborn disabled baby, and of others who are incurably sick and old, and of those whose lives - they judge - are no longer useful to society or meaningful to themselves. Due to this we see termination of pregnancy when the foetus is abnormal, and even euthanasia are all the result of the inability to accept this suffering."

The life of Blessed Alfonsa is taking on an even greater value in India, a society where there is still a rigid separation among the castes, and the underprivileged are kept at the margins of society. "The canonization of Blessed Alfonsa," Cardinal Vithayathil concludes, "should force us to confront the grim reality upon which our success and world dominance depend - all money, power and other attractions end with death, but a live lived in holiness, in faith and lived communion with Christ, lives and continues to bear fruit even after the passing away of our mortal life."