New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Mother Cabrini was the foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and pioneer worker for the welfare of dispersed Italian nationals, this diminutive nun was responsible for the establishment of nearly seventy orphanages, schools, and hospitals, scattered over eight countries in Europe, North, South, and Central America.

Francesca Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850, in the village of Sant' Angelo, on the outskirts of Lodi, about twenty miles from Milan, in the pleasant, fertile Lombardy plain. She was the thirteenth child of a farmer's family, her father Agostino being the proprietor of a modest estate. The home into which she was born was a comfortable, attractive place for children, with its flowering vines, its gardens, and animals; but its serenity and security was in strong contrast with the confusion of the times. Italy had succeeded in throwing off the Austrian yoke and was moving towards unity. Agostino and his wife Stella were conservative people who took no part in the political upheavals around them, although some of their relatives were deeply concerned in the struggle, and one, Agostino Depretis, later became prime minister. Sturdy and pious, the Cabrinis were devoted to their home, their children, and their Church. Signora Cabrini was fifty-two when Francesca was born, and the tiny baby seemed so fragile at birth that she was carried to the church for baptism at once. No one would have ventured to predict then that she would not only survive but live out sixty-seven extraordinarily active and productive years. Villagers and members of the family recalled later that just before her birth a flock of white doves circled around high above the house, and one of them dropped down to nestle in the vines that covered the walls.

The father took the bird, showed it to his children, then released it to fly away.

Since the mother had so many cares, the oldest daughter, Rosa, assumed charge of the newest arrival. She made the little Cecchina, for so the family called the baby, her companion, carried her on errands around the village, later taught her to knit and sew, and gave her religious instruction. In preparation for her future career as a teacher, Rosa was inclined to be severe. Her small sister's nature was quite the reverse; Cecchina was gay and smiling and teachable. Agostino was in the habit of reading aloud to his children, all gathered together in the big kitchen. He often read from a book of missionary stories, which fired little Cecchina's imagination. In her play, her dolls became holy nuns. When she went on a visit to her uncle, a priest who lived beside a swift canal, she made little boats of paper, dropped violets in them, called the flowers missionaries, and launched them to sail off to India and China. Once, playing thus, she tumbled into the water, but was quickly rescued and suffered only shock from the accident.

At thirteen Francesca was sent to a private school kept by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. Here she remained for five years, taking the course that led to a teacher's certificate. Rosa had by this time been teaching for some years. At eighteen Francesca passed her examinations, , and then applied for admission into the convent, in the hope that she might some day be sent as a teacher to the Orient. When, on account of her health, her application was turned down, she resolved to devote herself to a life of lay service. At home she shared wholeheartedly in the domestic tasks. Within the next few years she had the sorrow of losing both her parents. An epidemic of smallpox later ran through the village, and she threw herself into nursing the stricken. Eventually she caught the disease herself, but Rosa, now grown much gentler, nursed her so skillfully that she recovered promptly, with no disfigurement. Her oval face, with its large expressive blue eyes, was beginning to show the beauty that in time became so striking.

Francesca was offered a temporary position as substitute teacher in a village school, a mile or so away. Thankful for this chance to practice her profession, she accepted, learning much from her brief experience. She then again applied for admission to the convent of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, and might have been accepted, for her health was now much improved. However, the rector of the parish, Father Antonio Serrati, had been observing her ardent spirit of service and was making other plans for her future. He therefore advised the Mother Superior to turn her down once more.

Father Serrati, soon to be Monsignor Serrati, was to remain Francesca's lifelong friend and adviser. From the start he had great confidence in her abilities, and now he gave her a most difficult task. She was to go to a disorganized and badly run orphanage in the nearby town of Cadogno, called the House of Providence. It had been started by two wholly incompetent laywomen, one of whom had given the money for its endowment. Now Francesca was charged "to put things right," a large order in view of her youth-she was but twenty-four-and the complicated human factors in the situation. The next six years were a period of training in tact and diplomacy, as well as in the everyday, practical problems of running such an institution. She worked quietly and effectively, in the face of jealous opposition, devoting herself to the young girls under her supervision and winning their affection and cooperation. Francesca assumed the nun's habit, and in three years took her vows. By this time her ecclesiastical superiors were impressed by her performance and made her Mother Superior of the institution. For three years more she carried on, and then, as the foundress had grown more and more erratic, the House of Providence was dissolved. Francesca had under her at the time seven young nuns whom she had trained. Now they were all homeless.

At this juncture the bishop of Lodi sent for her and offered a suggestion that was to determine the nun's life work. He wished her to found a missionary order of women to serve in his diocese. She accepted the opportunity gratefully and soon discovered a house which she thought suitable, an abandoned Franciscan friary in Cadogno. The building was purchased, the sisters moved in and began to make the place habitable. Almost immediately it became a busy hive of activity. They received orphans and foundlings, opened a day school to help pay expenses, started classes in needlework and sold their fine embroidery to earn a little more money. Meanwhile, in the midst of superintending all these activities, Francesca, now Mother Cabrini, was drawing up a simple rule for the institute. As one patron, she chose St. Francis de Sales, and as another, her own name saint, St. Francis Xavier. The rule was simple, and the habit she devised for the hard-working nuns was correspondingly simple, without the luxury of elaborate linen or starched headdress. They even carried their rosaries in their pockets, to be less encumbered while going about their tasks. The name chosen for the order was the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

With the success of the institute and the growing reputation of its young founder, many postulants came asking for admission, more than the limited quarters could accommodate. The nuns' resources were now, as always, at a low level; nevertheless, expansion seemed necessary. Unable to hire labor, they undertook to be their own builders. One nun was the daughter of a bricklayer, and she showed the others how to lay bricks. The new walls were actually going up under her direction, when the local authorities stepped in and insisted that the walls must be buttressed for safety. The nuns obeyed, and with some outside help went on with the job, knowing they were working to meet a real need. The townspeople could not, of course, remain indifferent in the face of such determination. After two years another mission was started by Mother Cabrini, at Cremona, and then a boarding school for girls at the provincial capital of Milan. The latter was the first of many such schools, which in time were to become a source of income and also of novices to carry on the ever-expanding work. Within seven years seven institutions of various kinds, each founded to meet some critical need, were in operation, all staffed by nuns trained under Mother Cabrini.

In September, 1887, came the nun's first trip to Rome, always a momentous event in the life of any religious. In her case it was to mark the opening of a much broader field of activity. Now, in her late thirties, Mother Cabrini was a woman of note in her own locality, and some rumors of her work had undoubtedly been carried to Rome. Accompanied by a sister, Serafina, she left Cadogno with the dual purpose of seeking papal approval for the order, which so far had functioned merely on the diocesan level, and of opening a house in Rome which might serve as headquarters for future enterprises. While she did not go as an absolute stranger, many another has arrived there with more backing and stayed longer with far less to show.

Within two weeks Mother Cabrini had made contacts in high places, and had several interviews with Cardinal Parocchi, who became her loyal supporter, with full confidence in her sincerity and ability. She was encouraged to continue her foundations elsewhere and charged to establish a free school and kindergarten in the environs of Rome. Pope Leo XIII received her and blessed the work. He was then an old man of seventy-eight, who had occupied the papal throne for ten years and done much to enhance the prestige of the office. Known as the "workingman's Pope" because of his sympathy for the poor and his series of famous encyclicals on social justice, he was also a man of scholarly attainments and cultural interests. He saw Mother Cabrini on many future occasions, always spoke of her with admiration and affection, and sent contributions from his own funds to aid her work.

A new and greater challenge awaited the intrepid nun, a chance to fulfill the old dream of being a missionary to a distant land. A burning question of the day in Italy was the plight of Italians in foreign countries. As a result of hard times at home, millions of them had emigrated to the United States and to South America in the hope of bettering themselves. In the New World they were faced with many cruel situations which they were often helpless to meet. Bishop Scalabrini had written a pamphlet describing their misery, and had been instrumental in establishing St. Raphael's Society for their material assistance, and also a mission of the Congregation of St. Charles Borromeo in New York. Talks with Bishop Scalabrini persuaded Mother Cabrini that this cause was henceforth to be hers.

In America the great tide of immigration had not yet reached its peak, but a steady stream of hopeful humanity from southern Europe, lured by promises and pictures, was flowing into our ports, with little or no provision made for the reception or assimilation of the individual components. Instead, the newcomers fell victim at once to the prejudices of both native-born Americans and the earlier immigrants, who had chiefly been of Irish and German stock. They were also exploited unmercifully by their own padroni, or bosses, after being drawn into the roughest and most dangerous jobs, digging and draining, and the almost equally hazardous indoor work in mills and sweatshops. They tended to cluster in the overcrowded, disease-breeding slums of our cities, areas which were becoming known as "Little Italies." They were in America, but not of it. Both church and family life were sacrificed to mere survival and the struggle to save enough money to return to their native land. Cut off from their accustomed ties, some drifted into the criminal underworld. For the most part, however, they lived forgotten, lonely and homesick, trying to cope with new ways of living without proper direction. "Here we live like animals," wrote one immigrant; "one lives and dies without a priest, without teachers, and without doctors." All in all, the problem was so vast and difficult that no one with a soul less dauntless than Mother Cabrini's would have dreamed of tackling it.

After seeing that the new establishments at Rome were running smoothly and visiting the old centers in Lombardy, Mother Cabrini wrote to Archbishop Corrigan in New York that she was coming to aid him. She was given to understand that a convent or hostel would be prepared, to accommodate the few nuns she would bring.

Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding as to the time of her arrival, and when she and the seven nuns landed in New York on March 31, 1889, they learned that there was no convent ready. They felt they could not afford a hotel, and asked to be taken to an inexpensive lodging house. This turned out to be so dismal and dirty that they avoided the beds and spent the night in prayer and quiet thought. But the nuns were young and full of courage; from this bleak beginning they emerged the next morning to attend Mass. Then they called on the apologetic archbishop and outlined a plan of action. They wished to begin work without delay. A wealthy Italian woman contributed money for the purchase of their first house, and before long an orphanage had opened its doors there. So quickly did they gather a house full of orphans that their funds ran low; to feed the ever-growing brood they must go out to beg. The nuns became familiar figures down on Mulberry Street, in the heart of the city's Little Italy. They trudged from door to door, from shop to shop, asking for anything that could be spared—food, clothing, or money.

With the scene surveyed and the work well begun, Mother Cabrini returned to Italy in July of the same year. She again visited the foundations, stirred up the ardor of the nuns, and had another audience with the Pope, to whom she gave a report of the situation in New York with respect to the Italian colony. Also, while in Rome, she made plans for opening a dormitory for normal-school students, securing the aid of several rich women for this enterprise. The following spring she sailed again for New York, with a fresh group of nuns chosen from the order. Soon after her arrival she concluded arrangements for the purchase from the Jesuits of a house and land, now known as West Park, on the west bank of the Hudson. This rural retreat was to become a veritable paradise for children from the city's slums. Then, with several nuns who had been trained as teachers, she embarked for Nicaragua, where she had been asked to open a school for girls of well-to-do families in the city of Granada. This was accomplished with the approbation of the Nicaraguan government, and Mother Cabrini, accompanied by one nun, started back north overland, curious to see more of the people of Central America. They traveled by rough and primitive means, but the journey was safely achieved. They stopped off for a time in New Orleans and did preparatory work looking to the establishment of a mission. The plight of Italian immigrants in Louisiana was almost as serious as in New York. On reaching New York she chose a little band of courageous nuns to begin work in the southern city. They literally begged their way to New Orleans, for there was no money for train fare. As soon as they had made a very small beginning, Mother Cabrini joined them. With the aid of contributions, they bought a tenement which became known as a place where any Italian in trouble or need could go for help and counsel. A school was established which rapidly became a center for the city's Italian population. The nuns made a practice too of visiting the outlying rural sections where Italians were employed on the great plantations.

The year that celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus' voyage of discovery, 1892, marked also the founding of Mother Cabrini's first hospital. At this time Italians were enjoying more esteem than usual and it was natural that this first hospital should be named for Columbus. Earlier Mother Cabrini had had some experience of hospital management in connection with the institution conducted by the Congregation of St. Charles Borromeo, but the new one was to be quite independent. With an initial capital of two hundred and fifty dollars, representing five contributions of fifty dollars each, Columbus Hospital began its existence on Twelfth Street in New York. Doctors offered it their services without charge, and the nuns tried to make up in zeal what they lacked in equipment. Gradually the place came to have a reputation that won for it adequate financial support. It moved to larger quarters on Twentieth Street, and continues to function to this day.

Mother Cabrini returned to Italy frequently to oversee the training of novices and to select the nuns best qualified for foreign service. She was in Rome to share in the Pope's Jubilee, celebrating his fifty years as a churchman. Back in New York in 1895, she accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires to come down to Argentina and establish a school. The Nicaraguan school had been forced to close its doors as a result of a revolutionary overthrow of the government, and the nuns had moved to Panama and opened a school there. Mother Cabrini and her companion stopped to visit this new institution before proceeding by water down the Pacific Coast towards their destination. To avoid the stormy Straits of Magellan they had been advised to make the later stages of the journey by land, which meant a train trip from the coast to the mountains, across the Andes by mule-back, then another train trip to the capital. The nuns looked like Capuchin friars, for they wore brown fur-lined capes. On their unaccustomed mounts, guided by muleteers whose language they hardly understood, they followed the narrow trail over the backbone of the Andes, with frightening chasms below and icy winds whistling about their heads. The perilous crossing was made without serious mishap. On their arrival in Buenos Aires they learned that the archbishop who had invited them to come had died, and they were not sure of a welcome. It was not long, however, before Mother Cabrini's charm and sincerity had worked their usual spell, and she was entreated to open a school. She inspected dozens of sites before making a choice. When it came to the purchase of land she seemed to have excellent judgment as to what location would turn out to be good from all points of view. The school was for girls of wealthy families, for the Italians in Argentina were, on the average, more prosperous than those of North America. Another group of nuns came down from New York to serve as teachers. Here and in similar schools elsewhere, today's pupils became tomorrow's supporters of the foundations.

Not long afterward schools were opened in Paris, in England, and in Spain, where Mother Cabrini's work had the sponsorship of the queen. From the Latin countries in course of time came novice teachers for the South American schools. Another southern country, Brazil, was soon added to the lengthening roster, with establishments at Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Back in the United States Mother Cabrini started parochial schools in and around New York and an orphanage at Dobbs Ferry. In 1899 she founded the Sacred Heart Villa on Fort Washington Avenue, New York, as a school and training center for novices. In later years this place was her nearest approach to an American home. It is this section of their city that New Yorkers now associate with her, and here a handsome avenue bears her name.

Launching across the country, Mother Cabrini now extended her activities to the Pacific Coast. Newark, Scranton, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, all became familiar territory. In Colorado she visited the mining camps, where the high rate of fatal accidents left an unusually large number of fatherless children to be cared for. Wherever she went men and women began to take constructive steps for the remedying of suffering and wrong, so powerful was the stimulus of her personality. Her warm desire to serve God by helping people, especially children, was a steady inspiration to others. Yet the founding of each little school or orphanage seemed touched by the miraculous, for the necessary funds generally materialized in some last-minute, unexpected fashion.

In Seattle, in 1909, Mother Cabrini took the oath of allegiance to the United States and became a citizen of the country. She was then fifty-nine years old, and was looking forward to a future of lessened activity, possibly even to semi-retirement in the mother house at Cadogno. But for some years the journeys to and fro across the Atlantic went on; like a bird, she never settled long in one place. When she was far away, her nuns felt her presence, felt she understood their cares and pains. Her modest nature had always kept her from assuming an attitude of authority; indeed she even deplored being referred to as "head" of her Order. During the last years Mother Cabrini undoubtedly pushed her flagging energies to the limit of endurance. Coming back from a trip to the Pacific Coast in the late fall of 1917, she stopped in Chicago. Much troubled now over the war and all the new problems it brought, she suffered a recurrence of the malaria contracted many years before. Then, while she and other nuns were making preparations for a children's Christmas party in the hospital, a sudden heart attack ended her life on earth in a few minutes. The date was December 22, and she was sixty-seven. The little nun had been the friend of three popes, a foster-mother to thousands of children, for whom she had found means to provide shelter and food; she had created a flourishing order, and established many institutions to serve human needs.

It was not surprising that almost at once Catholics in widely separated places began saying to each other, "Surely she was a saint." This ground swell of popular feeling culminated in 1929 in the first official steps towards beatification. Ten years later she became Blessed Mother Cabrini, and Cardinal Mundelein, who had officiated at her funeral in Chicago, now presided at the beatification. Heralded by a great pealing of the bells of St. Peter's and the four hundred other churches of Rome, the canonization ceremony took place on July 7, 1946. Hundreds of devout Catholics from the United States were in attendance, as well as the highest dignitaries of the Church and lay noblemen. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American to be canonized, lies buried under the altar of the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School in New York City.

(Courtesy EWTN)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Saint Josaphat - 12th November 2008

In 1054, a formal split called a schism took place between the Eastern Church centered in Constantinople and the Western Church centered in Rome. Trouble between the two had been brewing for centuries because of cultural, political, and theological differences.

More than five centuries later, in what is now known as Belarus and Ukraine, but what was then controlled by Poland-Lithuania, the metropolitan of Kyiv and five other bishops decided to commit the millions of Christians under their pastoral care to reunion with Rome. Josaphat Kunsevich who was born in 1580 or 1584 was still a young boy when the Synod of Brest-Litovsk took place in 1595-96, but he was witness to the results both positive and negative.

Many of the faithful did not agree with the bishop’s decision to return to communion with Rome and both sides tried to resolve this disagreement not only with words but with violence. Martyrs died on both sides. Josaphat was a voice of Christian peace in this dissent.

After an apprenticeship to a merchant, Josaphat turned down a partnership in the business and entered the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Vilna in 1604. Within the monastery he found a soul mate in Joseph Benjamin Rutsky. Rutsky shared the young Josaphat's passion to work for reunion with Rome. Rutsky eventually became the metropolitan of Kyiv and Josaphat the abbot at Vilna.

Josaphat faced problems when he became first bishop of Vitebsk and then Polotsk in 1617. The church there was literally and figuratively in ruins with buildings falling apart, clergy marrying two or three times, and monks and clergy everywhere not really interested in pastoral care or model Christian living. Within three years, Josaphat rebuilt the church by holding synods, publishing a catechism to be used all over, and enforcing rules of conduct for clergy. But his most compelling argument was his own life which he spent preaching, instructing others in the faith, visiting the needy of the towns.

Despite all his work and the respect he had, dissenters found fertile ground with they set up their own bishops in the exact same area. Meletius Smotritsky was named his rival archbishop of Polotsk. Riots broke out when the King of Poland Sigismund III Vasa named Josaphat the only legitimate archbishop. His former diocese of Vitebsk turned completely against the reunion along with two other cities.

Another problem was that the very Catholics he looked to for communion opposed him as well. Catholics who should have been his support didn't like the way he insisted on the use of the Byzantine rite instead of the Roman rite. Out of fear or ignorance, Leo Sapiah, chancellor of Lithuania, chose to believe stories that Josaphat was inciting the people to violence and instead of coming to his aid, condemned him.

In October 1623, Josaphat decided to return to Vitebsk to try to calm the troubles himself. The dissenters saw their chance to get rid of Josaphat and discredit him if they could only stir Josaphat's party to strike the first blow. Then they would have an excuse to strike back. But Josaphat insisted that his party not react in anyway that did not show patience and forbearance. When the dissenters saw that they were not getting the violent response they had hoped for they decided to wear Josaphat and the others down as they plotted more direct action. A priest named Elias went to the house where Josaphat was staying and shouted insults and threats to everyone he saw, focusing on denouncing Josaphat and the Church of Rome. Josaphat knew of the plot against him and spent his day in prayer.

When Elias came back the next morning of November 12, the Josaphat’s servants were at their wits' ends and begged permission to do something. Before he went off to say his office he told them they could lock Elias away if he caused trouble again. When he returned to the house he found that the servants had done just that but Josaphat let Elias out of the room.

It was, however, too late. The mistake had been made. Elias had not been hurt in anyway but as soon as the mob saw that Elias had been locked up they rejoiced in the excuse they had been waiting for. Bells were rung and mobs descended on the house.

Josaphat came out in the courtyard to see the mob beating and trampling his friends and servants. He cried out, "My children what are you doing with my servants? If you have anything against me, here I am, but leave them alone!" With shouts of "Kill the papist" Josaphat was hit with a stick, then an axe, and finally shot through the head. His bloody body was dragged to the river and thrown in.

As usual violence had the opposite affect from that intended. Regret and horror at how far the violence had gone and the loss of their archbishop swung public opinion over toward the Catholics and unity. Eventually even Archbishop Meletius Smotritsky, Josaphat's rival, was reconciled with Rome. In 1867 Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day - We have forgotten

Today in Canada is Remembrance day. This day commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War . It is observed on 11 November to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918. It also Commemorates the men and women who bravely fought in World War II.

Now what did these brave men and women from different countries fight against? They fought against an evil ideology which threatened the destruction of civilization and existence itself. Despite the fact that we Won both world wars, the very ideology that we fought against, we have willingly accepted and enshrined as law in Canada and in many other countries.

In Canada, babies can be aborted right upto the ninth month (this was seen in NAZI Germany), using amniocentesis mothers can screen the unborn child and get rid of the child if it has even the smallest of defects. The elderly are hidden away in old age homes so that we do not have to put up with them and it is only a matter of time when we have laws providing euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. All these evil ideas were what those brave men and women died to protect their countries from. Yet we elect governments which support these very same evil ideas all under the name of 'Freedom of Choice'.

Yes, today we should stand siliently for 2 minutes to respect these men and women who died for us. And after that we should put onh our armour and fight the good fight against these evils. We need to fight against socialism so prevalent in our countries and against relativism as well. If we really want to show our respect for the veterans, it is time we adopted thier actions and stop doing lip service to thier sacrifices.

We need to stop voting for pro-choice politicans and municipal council members who want to promote abortions and such evil. We need to fight against our relatives who think that financial rescue matters and nationalized health care is more important that the life of the unborn. [Jesus said that we must not fear things that destroy the body (hunger, poverty etc) but rather fear those that destroy the soul (abortion, gay marriage etc) ]. Abortion and acts of violence against the unborn, the handicapped, and the elderly destroy the moral fabric of society and lead to the death and destrcution of society.

Statistic: in World war II the death toll was 48,231,700 and in World war I was 15,000,000. which totals 63,231,700 lives lost in war (civilin and military).

In USA alone there till 2008 there have been 50,212,754 abortions of innocent babies which is just 13 million less than those who died in both world wars. I am not counting in Canada, UK, Australia and other countries becasue it is obvisous that the number of abortions will exceed the number of people who died in both world wars.

St. Martin of Tours - 11th November 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours. Let us contemplate what Dr. Plinio Correa has to teach us about this saint.

"St. Martin’s mission was to complete the destruction of paganism, which had been driven from the towns by the martyrs but remained up to his time master of vast territories removed from the influence of the cities. All of Gaul heard from him.

"In all its provinces he overthrew the idols one after another, reduced the statues to powder, burnt or demolished all the temples, destroyed the sacred groves and all the haunts of idolatry. Martin, consumed with zeal for the House of God, was obeying none but the Spirit of God.

"Against the fury of the pagan population Martin’s only arms were the miracles he wrought, the visible assistance of the Angels sometimes granted to him, and, above all the prayers and tears he poured out before God, when the hard-heartedness of the people resisted the means by which Martin changed the face of the country.

"Where he found scarcely a Christian on his arrival, he left scarcely an infidel at his departure. The temples of the idols were immediately replaced by temples of the true God. For, says Sulpicius Severus, as soon as he had destroyed the houses of superstition, he built churches and monasteries. It is thus that all Europe is covered with sanctuaries bearing the name of St. Martin."

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

Dom Guéranger presented a first rate history of St. Martin of Tours. He went to the very heart of his mission, expounded it and analyzed it. It seems to me that its sociological aspect is the following:

In the Roman Empire the Catholic Religion conquered the cities more rapidly because of the vaster concentration of people in the urban centers. The evangelization was more successful and rapid because all the people were congregated together. Then the cities became the great focus of irradiation spreading the Catholic Religion. The cities were also the focus of the greater persecutions, and most of the martyrdoms took place in them.

Since the roads to the countryside were poor, people outside the cities lived isolated, far from each other, and the Catholic Religion did not reach them so easily. This was the reason why, even after the Christian Empire had been established in Rome and the great cities, paganism was still strong in the countryside. And this was the reason why St. Martin received the mission to destroy that paganism.

Pagus in Latin means village. From this came the name paganism, as synonymous with a village life, in the sense of a “hillbilly” backwoods life. The pagan was the primitive who still worshiped stones and groves instead of realizing that there is only one God, spiritual, immortal, King of all ages, and only one Jesus Christ, His Son, Our Lord the Savior, etc.

Therefore, St. Martin set out on a mission in which he was both the preacher who spread the Word of God, but also the warrior who destroyed the idols and the temples dedicated to the false gods. It is interesting to note that St. Augustine of Canterbury used to recommend that the pagan temples should not be destroyed. But here St. Martin did exactly the opposite, he destroyed the pagan temples. Naturally, the Saints had their different reasons. Most probably one reason was because the people in Britain could be attracted to the Catholic Church in those temples, which would then be purified for the practice of the true Faith. However, in France the temples were symbols that would invite the people to remain pagan. So, the great St. Martin spent a considerable part of his life preaching and destroying pagan temples.

If you look at the normal biographies of St. Martin, you will see that they generally don’t present this aspect shown by Dom Guéranger. They recount the famous case of St. Martin on horseback, stopping before a poor, cold beggar, and then tearing his mantle in half to share it with him. For a sentimental Catholic this episode summarizes the entire life of St. Martin.

I agree that it was good and noble to do that, but to take this as his whole life is to present a reality different from what actually happened. If it only demanded this kind of charity toward the poor to be a saint, we could leave aside every other concern and concentrate only on dividing mantles to give to the poor. It would be very easy. But this is not all that sanctity calls for. To present it as such is to distort the picture for persons and close them to the full reality of the lives of the saints. It is a poison, a kind of idolatry of sentimentality where there is no place for Catholic militancy. St. Martin, who was so saintly and had so many merits, including a great hatred for the pagan idols, certainly would likewise abhor this modern idol of sentimentality.

We might ask St. Martin to give us his zeal for the House of God, the Holy Catholic Church, and his efficiency in destroying idols. We should ask him to help us apply this spirit in fighting the idol of sentimental religiosity in our souls, so that we might truly understand the lives of the saints, follow their example, and become saints ourselves.

(Blog Owners Note: At this month of the Holy Souls, It is good to also pray for the Church Militant, that we might be ready to put on our faith into action to defend the Truth of God )

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pope St Leo the Great - 10th November 2008

Today we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Leo the Great. Let us read what Dr. Plinio has to say about this great Pope.

(The encounter between Leo the Great and Attila is the last fresco painted in this room. It was completed after the death of Julius II (pontiff from 1503 to 1513), during the pontificate of his successor Leo X (pontiff from 1513 to 1521). In fact the latter appears twice in the same scene, portrayed in the guise of Pope Leo the Great and as cardinal. According to legend, the miraculous apparition of Saints Peter and Paul armed with swords during the meeting between Pope Leo the Great and Attila (452 A.D.) caused the king of the Huns to desist from invading Italy and marching on Rome. Raphael situates the scene at the gates of Rome, identified by the Colosseum, by an aqueduct, an obelisk and other buildings, even if in fact the historical event took place in the north of Italy, near Mantua.)

St. Leo the Great, who reigned as Pope from 440 to 461, was one of the greatest Popes of History. He fought against numerous heresies that agitated the Church, principally against the Manicheans and Pelagians. In 452 he faced Attila and convinced the scourge of God and his Huns not to attack Rome and to leave Italy. He was also able to thwart the destruction of Rome by Genseric three years later.

Many Africans who had been driven away by the Vandals had settled in Rome and established a secret Manichean community there. When St. Leo discovered them, he denounced them to priests and religious, and warned the people to be on their guard against this reprehensible heresy.

In Spain the heresy of Priscillianism still survived and was attracting new adherents, provoking countless riots and general agitation. St. Leo was informed of this situation by St. Turibius, Bishop of Astorga in Spain. The Pope wrote him a long letter in which he refuted the errors of the Priscillian heresy and qualified it as the “sewer of all the prior heresies.” In particular he condemned its denial of free will and the influence of astrology, considered infallible. St. Leo also showed the connection between the Priscillians and the Manicheans, and sent St. Turibius the conclusions of the juridical processes that he had made against the latter in Rome.

In these processes one can see the seed of the future Inquisition. They were presided over by the Pope, who was assisted by Bishops, clergy, senators and other illustrious personages. During them, he would declare to the faithful their obligation to denounce the heretics; question those under suspicion; try to make them retract from their errors; give penances to those who returned to the Church; and deliver to the civil authorities those who were obstinate in their positions so they might be adequately punished.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

This selection is very beautiful because you can see how St. Leo the Great acted with the authority of a Pope and at the same time as a saint, that is, a person whom the Catholic Church declared infallibly to be one who heroically practiced all the virtues

His sanctity, by the way, was confirmed by a colossal miracle. When he went out to meet Attila, as he approached him, St. Peter appeared over the Pope and made the barbarian retreat. This was one of the great miracles in the History of the Church. This man who was so holy was a persecutor of heretics. Manicheans who had fled from Africa to Italy because of the persecution of the Vandals received a severe reception from St. Leo. He gave sermons warning the people against them and exhorted the people to denounce them to the Church.

When the heresy of the Priscillians re-emerged in Spain, he supported the fight of St. Turibius, Bishop of Astorga, to suppress it. Further, he established a kind of Inquisition in Rome, and he was the one who presided over its sessions, assisted by Bishops and illustrious persons. He carried out the role of Inquisitor - he questioned them to see if there were heresies, tried to convert those who were in error, and ordered punishment for those who refused the Catholic doctrine. You can see, therefore, that he was practicing a holy violence against the heretics. And this in no way was opposed to his sanctity. It was a virtue, a virtue that today is poorly appreciated, because it is the opposite of the bad ecumenism.

What would St. Leo the Great say and do if he would rise up from his grave and see the Catholic Church in the sad situation she is in today where all heresies are unopposed? He would immediately order the re-installation of an Inquisition. Therefore, let us pray to St. Leo, asking him to re-ignite in the Church the spirit of the Inquisition, the spirit of discernment, of holy vigilance, of balanced intransigence, of militancy and the fight. If this were established in the Church, perhaps the world could avoid the terrible chastisement through which it needs to pass. Let us pray to him asking that we might be enflamed with this spirit and that it be maintained in the Holy Church until the end times.

(Blog Owners Note - Indeed let us pray that Our Pope Benedict XVI defends our Catholic Faith from the tide of Relativism and Socialism which is sweeping across the world today)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

India Prelates Say They're Proud of Their Flocks

BALASORE, India, NOV. 6, 2008 ( Six Indian prelates are expressing their admiration and pride for the faithful of their communities, who have persevered in faith despite a wave of anti-Christian violence.

In a statement last week, the prelates said they wanted to "pay homage to those brothers and sisters who have laid down their lives for the sake of their faith, to comfort those who have been injured, to be with those who have been traumatized by the violence and mayhem […], to do everything in our ability to ensure rehabilitation of those who have lost their houses, property, churches, institutions etc, to stand by those whose rights have been violated, and to assure that justice will be done."

The pastoral letter comes after months of violence against Christians at the hands of Hindu extremists. Several Christians, including a priest, have been killed and thousands have fled their homes.

The statement is signed by Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil of Balasore; Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar; Bishop Alphonse Bilung of Rourkela; Bishop Lucas Kerketta of Sambalpur; Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur; and Coadjutor Bishop John Barwa of Rourkela.

Root cause

Though Hindu-Christian tension in India is nothing new, the current wave was sparked in late August when a Hindu leader was killed and Christians were successively blamed.

The bishops, however, emphatically deny any Christian involvement in the slaying, and contend that the real cause of anti-Christian violence is a hunger for power.

"We understand the factors and forces behind violence against Christians," the prelates wrote. "The Church has been standing by the side of the poor and the marginalized. Through education, health, housing and employment programs, the Church has been bringing in awareness and awakening among the vulnerable communities. They in turn are demanding their rights. This is not liked by the powers that are, since they fear their position being challenged by the poor people. Hence, they have taken to violence. But we condemn this and restate our resolve to continue the services of the Church."

The bishops lauded the faithful for their strength in the face of the violence.

"We are humbled by your strong adherence to your faith and by your trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour and Lord," they said. "We are humbled by your willingness to go through all kinds of humiliations, trials and even persecutions for the sake of your belief. We are proud of you for your ability to withstand all forms of intimidations and threats. We pray with you for the continued strength from Jesus our Saviour and Lord so that we all may continue to carry forward his mission of compassion, love, unity, justice and peace."

They also expressed appreciation for the interreligious support offered to the Christians of India.

They affirmed their "gratitude to people of all religions of Orissa and India, who in spite of the efforts by the fundamentalist forces and some political parties to divide them and create conflict between them, upheld the Indian traditions of communal harmony and national integrity. As always, we promise to continue our tradition of communal harmony and collective destiny."

Miserable failure

The six prelates had harsh words, though, for the state and federal government, and the "tardy manner" in which officials have responded to the violence.

"We are sorry to state that both these governments have failed miserably in discharging their constitutional obligations," they said. "Hence, we call upon them to use all the powers bestowed on them by the Constitution of the country and ensure that peace and harmony prevail in the area and that the guilty be punished and the affected people be protected and adequately compensated."

Finally, the prelates said that like Christ, they "pray for the perpetrators of crime. We pray with you that the Holy Spirit may give his wisdom and courage to the officials, government machinery and the governments to act immediately and to act in a non-partisan manner and bring life to normalcy for all in Orissa. We also pray with you that the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus may strengthen us in this time of crisis so that we may continue to live our Christian life in this country without any hesitation."

(From Zenit)

Revelation Chapter 13

When I read this, I can only wonder if we are in this time yet. The end which I have marked in bold might be a possible solution to the economic credit crisis. Please fellow Catholics and Christians lets us fast and pray for perseverance at such a time.

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If any man have an ear, let him hear. 10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.