A group photo taken with a Priestly author at CMG 2018

It’s Saturday morning and I’m just finishing packing as I get ready for a 8 hour drive back to Massachusetts (with perhaps a slight detour on the way) at the end of the Catholic Marketing Network 2018 event.

I’ve recorded 35 episodes of a new weekly radio show with catholic authors that will be going into production at WQPH (the premiere date has not been set) and another 50-60 video interviews (I lost count) since Tuesday.  All of them will be blogged here over the next two months so that each subject will get a post as they deserve. We are starting this list with Catholic Sci-fi author Karina Fabian.

Normally authors go up in the order I interview them, but I decided to bump Karina’s interview to the top of the upload and blog list not only because Karina has a cool fedora but because she is a founder of the Catholic Writers Guild which she talks about in the interview. Most of the writers I interviewed and will post about are members. So since she elected to promote the guild and the good work it does for current and potential catholic authors rather than her own body of work (which every writer reading understand the necessarily of) I’m giving her the first spot not only in her honor, but as a proper introduction for all the guild members who will follow in subsequent posts.

That Karina is a beautiful woman is self evidence from the video, that she is an excellent writer is self evident from her books. That she is cool is self evident from her fedora, but that she embodies the servants heart of the catholic faith is showed by her desire to do what she can to advance others work over the chance to do her own.

A postscript. At mass that evening (there is daily mass every day at CMN and I confess while I made all the evening masses I slept through all the morning ones) I ended up sitting next to Karina. While I of course had my fedora off women are allowed to wear hats at mass but her black fedora was replaced by a red mass veil, which was once traditional among Catholic women pre-vatican 2 but has made a bit of a comeback. It was the first time I’d ever seen her without her hat for more that a brief moment and I asked her about it. This was her answer:

“When I wear my hat, it’s about me, when I wear the veil it’s about God”

THAT is what I call a Catholic woman!

PS Longtime readers might have noticed that unlike other trips I’ve only managed to upload 2 of said interviews so far.  For “The hardest working man in the blogosphere” this is practically dereliction of duty, however on this trip my wife joined me and she and the duties involved of being a good husband on such a trip has reintroduced me to the joys of dinner and sleep when the work day is done concepts previously unknown on such trips so I beg your indulgence as I wait till I get home to begin uploads en mass to Youtube.

Update: My wife remembered Karina’s quote correctly, fixed


My pay for this comes from the voluntary contributions of readers.  If you think this work is worth your while and wish to support it and my writers please subscribe to the site below.


Choose a Subscription level


Of course one time tip jar hits are welcome as well



Or buying my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer

Either way it’s most appreciated.

I have a few things to say about the Cardinal McCarrick case that Catholics should take to heart

Christ is still Christ, the Church is still the Church and the Doctrines are Still the Doctrines:

Nothing McCarrick has done changes the truth of God, Christ, scripture of the Church. In the 2000 year history of the church there have been countless number of Deacons, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and even the occasional Pope who have not acted in accordance with the teachings of Christ and the doctrines of the church and in the future you can be sure that there will be plenty more but while the names and the times may change God and Christ and the salvation that is offered by Christ through the church endures or as Jesus told Peter, The Gates of Hell will not stand against it.”

The Numbers are still minuscule Context

the Roman Catholic Church is a huge worldwide church with over 415,348 priests, over 40,000 deacons over 5,000 Bishops and over 200 Cardinals . Given those numbers the McCarrick’s of the world might continually grab the headlines but the priests and religious by the hundreds of thousands who are tarred by him will continue their work feeding, clothing, educating, sheltering and otherwise tending to the spiritual and physical needs of the people they serve with the rest of the world taking little or no notice.

What gay scandal?

The McCarrick scandal has one thing in common with the previous scandals involving the church and minors. It is primarily a gay scandal. One of the great tricks of the media was to turn a scandal that was primarily a Gay scandal ( 78% of the abuse involved homosexual acts, men abusing boys.) into a “church” scandal with homosexuality completely ignored. For the “Catholic’s for Mortal Sin” lobby within the church this separation of Homosexuality from this scandal has been vital as they continue to attempt to redefine sin rather than combat it. It is important to call them out on it.

The “why should I bother” trap

There are several traps for souls that are an offshoot of a scandal like McCarrick’s. One is what it does to marginal Catholics or Catholics struggling with the faith. It goes like this: “Why should I bother trying to avoid sin when you have Cardinals and Bishops doing things like this? This is the devil hoping to nail you as collateral damage and is one of the worst parts of a scandal like this. The reality is McCarrick is no different that a crooked Senator or a crooked governor or a crooked Police Captain. When Rod Blagojevich was nailed for corruption did that mean that the laws of Illinois didn’t apply to the citizens there? When Richard Nixon resigned due to Watergate did this mean federal law shouldn’t apply to others? To decide you don’t have to worry about sin because of McCarrick’s sins is exactly what the Devil is looking for from you and like a man who speeds thinking he can get away with it because a cop he knows of does, is in for a rude awakening.

The Pride / Francis Trap for Conservative Churchmen

There are two more sin traps that the McCarrick case produce. The targets of these traps are the formed and conservative Catholics. The first is the sin of pride. The sins of a liberal Cardinal does not make our own sins any less dangerous, if we point to McCarrick and his enablers and talk about our own “righteousness” then we are doing the Devil’s work for him. Remember pride is the first of the deadly sins and if we use the McCarrick case to distract ourselves from our own sins and actions we are making a huge and damning mistake. Likewise it’s worth noting that McCarrick has been a Cardinal since 2000 a bishop since 1977 and a priest since 1958. It is therefore a stretch to lay all of the inaction in this case on the current Pope. This case is a cause for lamentation not a weapon to beat the Pope over the head. There is a fine line between critique of the church done in love and leading an attack on the church which is the work of the Devil. If you’re the least bit unsure of where that line is, the best thing to do is step away from it and pray.

Two different Scandals/sins:

It’s important to remember that there are two or three different sins involved with McCarrick. McCarrick and those like him are committing two sins unnatural sins of the flesh and the breaking of ecclesiastical vows. They are both scandals because he is a high churchman. Meanwhile there is the institutional sin of those around him which is different than his, but is the same sin that was common in the Church during the various scandals of the 2000’s. The sins of cowardice and pride. It is that unwillingness to confront the sins of those like McCarrick that has been the meat and potatoes of all these scandals. At best their feared the “Why should I bother trap” already mentioned at worst they feared a drop in respect and funds. Both of these are cowardice and pride. If proper ecclesiastical authorities were willing to come down on him hard right at the start then it would have been the story of an individual priest booted out and would have set a very visible example. That unwillingness to take the hit when it was small both here and in previous scandals is the church’s real sin.

The Hardest lesson of them all

Of all the things that must and should be said about McCarrick’s sexual sins and the sins of cowardice of the churchmen who refused to call him out, these is the one that people least want to hear.

McCarick’s sin and the sins of those who covered for him, like any other sins are completely paid for by the sacrifice of Christ and if sincerely confessed and with proper contrition are subject to the same absolution and forgivness that Christ offers to each and every sinner.

This can be a tough one to remember but it’s also Christianity 101. Christ didn’t just die for our little sins or our big ones, he died for everybody’s sins, especially for the REALLY big ones. If McCarrick and those around him sincerely repent, confess their sins and seek absolution Christ will give it.

Now it must be stressed that this forgiveness is of the eternal consequences of their actions. That doesn’t mean he or any of those involved are absolved of the temporal punishments either legal if laws were broken or ecclesiastical penalties such as laizication that might be applies. It simply that their eternal souls might be kept out of the grasp of the Devil and that’s a good thing because ANY soul kept out of his hands is a victory worth celebrating.

As Catholics it is our job to pray for this result, in fact we should be praying for everyone involved. It’s what we do



Choose a Subscription level


Of course one time tip jar hits are welcome as well



Or buying my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer

Either way it’s most appreciated.

 

At Yesterday’s Pintastic NE Jersey Jack of Jersey Jack Pinball held a seminar about his business that produces some of the best pinball machines on the market. These games are constantly in demand both on the market and at the show:

During the seminar one of the attendees asked him an obvious question, why has he made it when others have failed? Here was his answer.

This is not a light thing to say because it must be remembered he started this business in the Obama years before the Trump boom AND because when it comes down to it a Pinball machine is not a necessity.

I think thanking God and a bunch of others is important as was his decision to market to individuals, but for my money the real secret is the fact that in terms of subject matter, video, artwork and display, all of his games are PG rated or lower. I asked him why he made that decision and his answer was telling

Note that he didn’t say: “I don’t think anyone should make an R rated game”, he just decided that as a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and a Catholic Eucharistic Minister involved in his church, he decided that he wasn’t going to making anything that wasn’t family friendly.

In an era when kindergartens are having very inappropriate stuff pushed at them and Disney has apparently decided that being “woke” is more important that being family friendly that’s an incredibly radical decision.

My interview with Jack is here

And you can buy his games here

If there has been one constant in the last few years it has been the media/left rushing to quote Pope Francis on the subject of migration, on wealth and, out of context, on our duties to our fellow man who happens to be gay.

We have had liberal stalwarts from Nancy Pelosi to Bernie Sanders chime in on listening to the Pope on issues like this.

This week however the Pope had something to say about Abortion:

Abortion is the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi eugenics programme, Pope Francis has said.

In off-the-cuff remarks to members of an Italian family association reported by the Associated Press, the Pope said he regretted that some couples decided not to have children or opted for pre-natal tests to discover if their unborn child had any physical defects.

“The first proposal in such a case is, ‘Do we get rid of it?’” Francis said. “The murder of children. To have an easy life, they get rid of an innocent.”

The Pope said that in his youth he had been shocked by stories about children in the past being “thrown from the mountain” if they were born with disabilities.

“Today we do the same thing,” he said, according to AP.

“Last century, the whole world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,” Francis said.

And had this to say about marriage and family:

The pope also rejected the concept of nontraditional families not based on heterosexual marriage.

“Today—it hurts to say it—one speaks of ‘diversified’ families: different types of family …but the human family as the image of God, man and woman, is only one. Only one,” the pope said.

Oddly enough thought the Holy Father said these things several days ago and yet I’ve not hear Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and/or the good folks at CNN & MSNBC to come out and proclaim the necessity to embrace the Holy Father’s teachings on this important moral issues?

One must conclude that as far as the media/left is concerned Francis is not quotable when he states unchanging Catholic doctrine in public in clear, straightforward and un-spinable language.

#unexpectedly

No word if DePaul or Marquette or any other “Catholic” University will be banning him as a potential speaker for exclusionary language.

Today is the first of Three Days of fasting and Prayer for the church, the Pope and ourselves that I wrote about here.

If we want to banish the demons that plague the church and ourselves this is the way to do it, after all this is exactly what Christ suggested :

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting“.

That’s good enough for me.

By an odd coincidence I have had a rough few days in terms of health, finances and personal situations but it’s at those times that we should most turn to God rather than seek solace in the world whose prince is not on our side as CS Lewis says in Screwtape:

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” 

Many Christians look at the world today and wonder where God is.   The truth is that while the dominant culture has forsaken God and pushes that abandonment on us as the solution to our problems, it remains a lie.  The solution to our problems IS God and our abandonment of him is the cause.

May we turn to prayer and fasting today and follow the example of Christ, who while suffering and asking God why he was forsaken still obeyed.

Saint Dymphna was an Irish princess born in the seventh century to a pagan king and a Christian mother. She is the Patron Saint of people who are suffering from mental illness and/or emotional stress, nervous disorders, epileptics, victims of incest, runaways, and mental health professionals.

I first learned of her from my grandmother, who suffered from depression and who gave me a pocket sized prayer booklet for Saint Dymphna from the Franciscian Mission Associates in New York which features the image below on its cover. I still have that booklet, well over twenty years after it was given to me. Saint Dymphna is very dear to me, and her feast day is coming up on May 15th.

Saint Dymphna Patron of Mental & Spiritual Afflictions

Dymphna’s Christian mother was very beautiful, and her husband, King Damon of Oriel, loved her very much. Saint Dymphna was raised Christian; she was secretly baptized by her mother and educated by their priest, Father Gerebernus. Young Dymphna loved Jesus Christ and promised herself to Him with a vow of chastity as she began to approach womanhood. Via the National Shrine of Saint Dymphna, here is what happened soon after:

It was not long, however, until an unexpected cloud overshadowed the happy childhood of the beautiful girl. She lost her good mother by death. Many were the secret tears she shed over this bereavement, but at the same time she found great comfort in the Divine Faith which, though she was still of a tender age, already had taken deep root.

Dymphna’s father, too, greatly mourned his deceased wife and for a long time continued prostrate with grief. At length he was persuaded by his counselors to seek solace in a second marriage. So he commissioned certain ones of his court to seek out for him a lady who would be like his first spouse in beauty and character. After visiting many countries in vain, the messengers returned saying that they could find none so charming and amiable as his own lovely daughter, Dymphna. Giving ear to their base suggestion, the king conceived the evil design of marrying Dymphna. With persuasive and flattering words he manifested his purpose to her. Dymphna, as may be expected, was greatly horrified at the suggestion, and asked for a period of forty days to consider the proposal. She immediately betook herself to Father Gerebran, who advised her to flee from her native country, and since the danger was imminent, he urged her to make no delay.

With all speed, therefore, she set out for the continent, accompanied by Father Gerebran, the court jester and his wife. After a favorable passage, they arrived on the coast near the present city of Antwerp. Having stopped for a short rest, they resumed their journey and came to a little village named Gheel. Here they were hospitably received and began to make plans for establishing their future abode at this place.

The king, in the meantime, having discovered Dymphna’s flight, was fearfully angry, and immediately set out with his followers in search of the fugitives. After some time, they were traced to Belgium and their place of refuge was located. At first, Dymphna’s father tried to persuade her to return with him, but Father Gerebran sternly rebuked him for his wicked intentions, whereupon he gave orders that Father Gerebran should be put to death. Without delay, his wicked retainers laid violent hands upon the priest and struck him on the neck with a sword. With one blow of the steel, the head was severed from the shoulders and another glorious martyr went to join the illustrious heroes of Christ’s kingdom.

Further attempts on the part of Dymphna’s father to induce her to return with him proved fruitless. With undaunted courage she spurned his enticing promises and scorned his cruel threats. Infuriated by her resistance, the father drew a dagger from his belt and he himself struck off the head of his child. Recommending her soul to the mercy of God, the holy virgin fell prostrate at the feet of her insanely raving father. Thus the glorious crown of martyrdom was accorded to St. Dymphna in the fifteenth year of her age, on the fifteenth day of May, between 620 and 640. The day of her death has been assigned as her feastday.

The records of Dymphna’s life and death say that the bodies of the two martyred saints lay on the ground for quite some time after their death, until the inhabitants of Gheel removed them to a cave, which was the customary manner of interment in that part of the world at the time of the martyrdoms. But after several years had elapsed, the villagers, recalling their holy deaths, decided to give the bodies a more suitable burial. When the workmen removed the heap of black earth at the cave’s entrance, great was their astonishment to find two most beautiful tombs, whiter than snow, which were carved from stone, as if by angel hands. When the coffin of St. Dymphna was opened there was found lying on her breast a red tile bearing the inscription:

“Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.”

The remains of the saint were placed in a small church. Later necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which now stands on the site where the bodies were first buried. St. Dymphna’s relics repose there in a beautiful golden reliquary.

Miracles and cures began to occur in continually increasing numbers. Gradually St. Dymphna’s fame as patroness of victims of nervous diseases and mental disorders was spread from country to country. More and more mentally afflicted persons were brought to the shrine by relatives and friends, many coming in pilgrimages from far-distant places. Novenas wer made, and St. Dymphna’s relic was applied to the patients. The remarkable cures reported caused confidence in the saint to grow daily. At first the patients were lodged in a small annex built onto the church. Then gradually it came about that the patients were place in the homes of the families living in Gheel. From this beginning Gheel developed into a town world-famed for its care of the insane and mentally afflicted. An institution, called the “Infirmary of St. Elizabeth,” which was conducted by the Sisters of St. Augustine was later built for the hospital care of the patients. Most of the latter, after some time spent in the institution, are placed in one or other of the families of Gheel, where they lead a comparatively normal life.

In the town of Geel, Belgium, where Saints Dymphna and Gerebernus were martyred, local people still continue to provide care for those who travel there seeking relief from mental illness centuries later. Via NCR Online:

In the mid-14th century, Geel erected a church in Dymphna’s honor; it was built on the spot where she was buried. Around this time, rumors spread about disturbed individuals who were cured upon visiting Geel. As these accounts circulated, people began bringing disturbed family members, hoping for their own miracle. And many embattled souls made it to Geel on their own.

A building contiguous to St. Dymphna Church was built to accommodate the troubled pilgrims. Soon enough, the capacity of this structure was exceeded. Church authorities appealed to the citizens of Geel, who responded in a way that would eventually designate Geel as “the charitable city”: They welcomed mentally ill strangers into their homes.

The Geel community showed remarkable compassion, particularly for an era when most any sort of psychological aberration was viewed as being due to demonic influence or possession. Ronald J. Comer’s Abnormal Psychology mentions the typical techniques of the time for dealing with the psychologically aberrant. Exorcisms, of course, were performed. “Holy water” or “bitter drinks” might be administered. If these remedies failed to produce results, the ensuing therapy could consist of flogging, scalding, stretching of limbs, or starvation. It was hoped that these extreme measures might expunge the iniquity.

In contrast to these measures was the Geel way, in which the mentally ill, who were called “boarders” instead of “patients,” became a valued part of the community. Many of the boarders helped with agricultural labor. They were allowed to go about the village, and some even became regulars at local taverns. Some boarders stayed in Geel for only a few months; others stayed for the rest of their lives.

The boarder population peaked in the year 1938, when the number reached 3,736. About 1,600 remained by the late 1970s. Geel now has some 500 boarders and a total population of about 35,000.

Via Medelita, here is more information about how the mentally ill are cared for in Gheel currently:

These days, boarders are considered wards of the local psychiatric hospital, and they have a treatment team that checks in on them and drops off medications when needed. However, there is no care plan or greater goal given to the families that take them in. They are only told to be as normal as possible. Families are unaware of the patient’s diagnosis, only knowing what the patient chooses to tell them, and often times, families are not trained in any way other than what they’ve learned from relatives, other townspeople, or past experiences. Despite the lack of a treatment plan, boarders are given the security and stability of being accepted by a whole community, as well as family and doctors, which some say has a healing effect. People living in Geel simply do not look at mental illness in the same way that most societies do, and mental illness is regarded with zero stigma attached.

Compassionate care for the mentally ill seems to work out well for the afflicted and the people of Geel who welcome them and help them. Divine intervention seems a plausible explanation for this.

Below is a prayer to Saint Dymphna, via Our Catholic Prayers:

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.

(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)

Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

You can also do a Novena to her, which is a series of prayers lasting nine days. Via Pray More Novenas:

St. Dymphna Novena Prayers

Day 1 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Faith

O God, Source of our salvation, in the midst of a pagan people, Thou didst enlighten St. Dymphna by the light of the true faith, which she professed under the guidance of her holy confessor, Gerebran, with such constance that she suffered martyrdom. Through the intercession of these two saints, we beg Thee to strengthen the faith which Thou hast given us, so that by wisely subjecting our souls to Thy Supreme Authority, and by faithfully conforming our lives according to our faith, we may honor Thee with our whole heart and soul until the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 2 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Hope

Almighty and infinitely good God, Thou hast promised eternal salvation to those who obey Thy commandments and make zealous use of Thy graces. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who fled from the danger of sin by leaving the palace of her father, and who, eager to gain eternal salvation, fled to Belgium to live in poverty, we beg Thee to grant that we also, who are striving for eternal happiness, may overcome all obstacles in the way of virtue and may attain eternal salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 3 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Charity

God of love, Thou art the most perfect Being, and Creator of all that is good and beautiful. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who in her youth loved Thee above all creatures and for Thy sake loved her neighbor as herself, as the image and likeness of Thee, as the price of the Blood of Jesus and as co-heir of heaven, be pleased to help us by Thy powerful grace, that we may faithfully fulfill the two great commandments of charity not only in word, but in action and in truth. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 4 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Piety

God, Our Creator and Supreme Master, St. Dymphna served Thee with great zeal even in her childhood, by hearing Thy word with delight, by assisting at Holy Mass with fervent reverence, and by receiving Holy Communion from the hand of St. Gerebran with tender devotion. Through her intercession we beg Thee to grant us the same virtue of piety so that, having honored Thee during this life as our Creator, we may possess Thee hereafter as our final reward. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 5 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Prudence

O God, ruler of the universe, Thou didst allow St. Dymphna to discover a helpful means of avoiding the evil intentions of her father. Through the merits of Thy holy servant, be pleased to grant that we may become, according to the words of Jesus, simple as doves and wise as serpents, so that through prudent advice and sound judgment we may recognize what we must do to achieve the great work of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 6 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Justice

O God, source of eternal justice, Thou didst inspire St. Dymphna to flee from her country and her father in order to render to Thee that which was Thine. Through her intercession we beg Thee to make us seek after justice so that we may perform our duties toward Thee as we ought. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 7 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Fortitude

O God, rewarder of those who remain firm in their good resolutions, Thou gavest St. Dymphna such a love of virtue that she had the courage to suffer privation, persecution, and even martyrdom. Through her prayers we beg Thee to grant us fortitude that we may courageously and perseveringly overcome ourselves and finally conquer the enemy of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 8 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Temperance

O God, You made St. Dymphna resplendent in the virtue of temperance so that she mastered sensual inclinations and used temporal goods prudently. With temperance she combined the beautiful virtues of modesty, docility and humility. Let us not forget that humility is called the foundation of all virtue because it banishes from the soul pride, the obstacle to grace. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg Thee to guide and direct us, so that being preserved from evil and nervous disorders, we may obey till death the commandments and counsels Thou hast given us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 9 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Chastity

O God, lover of innocent souls, Thou gavest St. Dymphna the virtue of angelic purity which made her reserved in all her actions, modest in her dress, attentive in her conversation, upright in her character, so that she even shed her blood to preserve this precious virtue. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg thee to bestow upon us the virtue of chastity that we may enjoy peace of conscience in this life and pure eternal joys of heaven hereafter. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Please remember those suffering from mental illnesses in your prayers and try to have compassion for them in your hearts.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

I have said on more than one occasion that I think Pope Francis is a mixed bag.  He talks a lot about mercy and the reality of the Devil which is very good but tends to act like a local pastor ignoring that he is the head of the entire church which is very bad.  I think he, like most Popes, has been mediocre.

Since we had a canonized saint as Pope (John Paul II) for over a quarter of a century it’s natural that Francis would pale in comparison but there are real reasons to critique the way this Pope has handled things from China and the underground church to the Dubia which has still remained unanswered after over 550 days.  It is entirely proper to critique these failures, nevertheless he is still the Pope the head of the church until God wills that he is not.

There is always the danger that such a critique progresses to the point of considering the Holy Father our enemy ( which ironically would require us per the non-optional doctrine of the church, to love him and to pray for him) and causes us to embrace that first of the deadly sins, pride which Christ warned us of.

Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:10-14

And we can we can be sure that if our zeal takes us there our foe the Devil will be at our shoulder trying to tempt us in just that direction.

So what are we to do if we want to do something yet want to avoid crossing the line that our true enemy wants us to?  Fortunately as Catholics there is simple answer.

Prayer and Fasting.

I propose a three-day period of Prayer for the Pope, the Church and ourselves, where we implore God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to bless, the entire Universal Church on earth.

For these three days I propose the following prayers:

Starting the day with an Our Father in the morning asking God the father to provide for the basic needs of the Church.

At midday A Divine Mercy Chaplet in the Afternoon to implore God mercy for the church through the sacrifice of God the Son.

Ending the Day with the Come Holy Spirit asking the God the Holy Spirit to envelop the entire church with the Spirit of discipleship.

For these three days I further propose a fast of varying degrees depending on one’s circumstances.

Abstaining from meat (full disclosure I already abstain on Wednesdays)

An Ash Wednesday like fast

A complete fast.

One could choose any of these or to progress from one to the next each day.

I further propose to begin this on May 8th the Feast of Apparition of St. Michael the defender of the church and end May 10th a feast day for Martyrs (Saints Gordian and Epimachus) High Churchmen ( St. Comgall, Abbot St. Cataldus Bishop, St. Antoninus, Archbishop) and ordinary people (St. Isidore) thus representing both the heavenly nature of such a prayer and the earthly span of the church from high to low.

If we want to banish the demons that plague the church and ourselves this is the way to do it, after all this is exactly what Christ suggested :

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting“.

That’s good enough for me.

St. Bernards Parish at St Camillus Church 333 Mechanic St in Fitchburg is hosting Fr. Carlos Martin of the Companions of the Cross in Corpus Christi. TX. He will be here with his special ministry hosing a teaching lecture and exposition of Sacred Relics tonight at 6 PM.

150 relics of the saints, some as much as 2000 years old will be displayed for veneration.

Among the treasures will be relics of St. bernard, St. Maric Goretti, St Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua. St. Thomas Aquanis and St. Faustina Kowalska.

There will also be part of Our Lady’s Veil and one of the largest remaining pieces of the True Cross in the world.

Attendees can examine and venerate each relic and you are encouraged to bring articles of devotion and pictures of ill family and friends to the reliquaries as a means of intercession.

Now that’s not something you get in town every day (and wouldn’t you know I’m stuck working)!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.            – Jn 3:16

Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.       – Lk 24:5-6

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.                – He 11:1

Happy Easter!

There have been three images that come to mind for me when I think about Easter. The first occurred twenty years ago, when I celebrated my first Easter as a father. I was familiar, or course, with the famous John 3:16 verse, but it wasn’t until my own son was born that I was able to understand the depth of love that would be required to make such a sacrifice. All of you who are parents can I’m sure relate to that feeling.

The second image that comes to mind is when I first watched “The Passion of the Christ,” which has become an annual Good Friday tradition for me. I remember hearing as a kid in Catholic school that Christ actually suffered enough in the garden on Holy Thursday to make up for our sins, and I had heard of how awful death by crucifixion would have been, but it was largely an intellectual argument. To see such an intense depiction of what Jesus may have actually gone through puts into perspective just how much He actually did suffer for us.

And the only way any of that makes sense is that He actually did rise on Easter Sunday. There is no way the Church could have survived its early persecution and thrived as it has for two millennia if it were based on a lie.

And I saw the “evidence of things not seen” about four years ago as my mom was dying. When I visited her shortly before the end I witnessed her receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Seeing the look of peace that came over her at that time, I am certain that she is in a better place and that I will see her again. I know that Jesus has led the way.

I pray that you and your family share in the joy of Easter today and throughout the year.

I want to thank Pete for giving me the opportunity to write more often, starting today. I’m looking forward to being able to comment on things closer to when they happen. And please remember to hit DaTipJar!

The Damned being Cast into Hell, Frans Francken 1610

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, 10 into the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Mark 9:41-48

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the Francis “No Hell” business and I think I’ve figured it out what is going on (although I can’t take all the credit for it).

A long time ago I wrote a post about how the internet empowers “crazy uncles”

It’s not so odd that 1% of any population might be off its rocker, the problem is in a country of 300,000,000 that is 3 million people. Even if 1/10 of one percent is crackers that’s 300,000 people. To give you some perspective that’s more troops than we have in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The problem is with the internet and social networking and the like that crazy 1% or 1/10 of one percent is suddenly empowered. Instead of the crazy uncle at the family gathering that you can ignore, suddenly he has 1000 friends that he can text to rebut and counter rebut all night. He is affirmed and empowered and boy is he motivated, because now there are thousands of people telling him he’s been right all along and is MUCH smarter than everyone thought.

300,000-3,000,000 crazy uncles as individuals isn’t a big deal, but get them all writing e-mails or making phone calls and most importantly AFFIRMING themselves and suddenly you have a potent economic and or political force. Suddenly there is a huge market for a book or 10,000 people willing to pay $20 for a DVD. That’s a fair amount of change and a person can make a good living off of it.

In terms of the church a good example of this is one given by Father Z in one of the best posts on the subject of communion and the divorced that I’ve ever read. It begins with this question:

You wrote in a recent post, “Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried (which in 99.99% of cases would be sacrilege).” Can you tell me what scenario would permit your conscience to give communion to the remarried? I can think of a couple, perhaps; curious what you’re thinking, esp. as I teach a marriage class every semester.

He lays out a scenario where a couple illicitly married choose not to separate for the sake of their children but are made to understand their sin and resolve to live as brother and sister such a couple CAN receive communion but would and should avoid doing so during their mass obligation to make sure it didn’t cause scandal and confuse people by making people think the priest is giving them communion in a state of mortal sin, as father puts it

Now I will track back to what I asked about Communion at the top.

What is it that they want?

Communion with its holy effects? Or do they want to be seen receiving Communion?

Do they want the Eucharist or the “white thing” that symbolizes affirmation?

In theory of course said couple could go for communion in public and the priest knowing that they are not in a state of moral sin could give them communion counting on the charity that people should have to presume that both the priest and the couple are acting in good faith.  In his letter to the Corinthians Paul explains how how such a situation, using the example of meat sacrificed to idols, can lead to sin.

Now food will not bring us closer to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do.  But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.  If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak as it is, be “built up” to eat the meat sacrificed to idols?  Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died.  When you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ.

1 Cor 8:8-12

Now if you are dealing with a small parish, and there is a busybody or a crazy uncle who sees this, the pastor could explain privately to a person scandalized by this that the couple in question are working with him and living as brother and sister (and if they fail confessing with a firm purpose of resolution) and count on that person not to gossip about this couple’s private situation or blast it out on twitter or facebook. Of course if he is unlucky the person might have already blasted this out and suddenly not only is he dealing with his bishop and the local press asking if he’s defying the church but the couple in question suddenly have all of their business out in public making leading them away from sin a complicated matter.

And that brings us to Pope Francis

A priest friend of mine one noted that the weakness of Pope Francis is he forgets that he not just a local pastor dealing with local issues but the Pope of the entire church whose every pronouncement is given scrutiny. This whole business about “There is no Hell” and the Vatican’s weak response to it is a great example of this.

Now Pope Francis might think that this is no big deal, just a conversation with an old man, John Allen describes it

The cardinal said he’d asked Pope Francis the very same question, and here was the pope’s answer: “You know, by now he [Scalfari] is quite old … we have to be gentle with him,” which is consistent with the pope’s repeated pleas to respect and cherish the elderly.

Francis’s Vatican team, sensing the pope’s preferences, may have gotten the message that when it comes to Scalfari, normally the gloves stay on.

Unfortunately he’s not just an old man Scalfari (the elderly atheist/communist journalist) is the founder of a major paper that is read by thousands and while as Allen explains, his reputation for accuracy or the lack thereof might be well known in Italy in general and Vatican circles in particular, Allen again:

It’s also worth remembering that in 2015, when Scalfari quoted Francis as having said that “all the divorced and remarried who ask will be admitted” to Communion, the then-Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, added a very telling aside to the official denial.

Those who have “followed the preceding events and work in Italy,” he said, “know the way Scalfari writes and know these things well.”

In other words, the Vatican officials who approve public statements may have thought that it’s all been said before – forgetting, naturally, that the share of humanity that’s followed the preceding events and works in Italy is, in all honesty, staggeringly small.

Alas while Vatican officials, living in their bubble might think that this is no big deal in the age of the internet and of Drudge and a media who would like nothing more than to bring down the church this is gold and while Scalfari might be an old man, don’t think for one moment that that old Communist, Socialist Atheist and Fascist who has spent a lifetime trying to bring down the west and the Christian Culture that made it strong didn’t know what he was doing nor what it would do.

This brings scandal and disrepute to the church that he rejects but it does something even worse

Last night was the day when most new converts are received into the Church, many of them I’m sure doing so in defiance of the opinions of family and friends. How many of them, do you think, might have had second thoughts or even decided against entering into full communion because of this business, particularly the Vatican’s decision not to make a direct unequivocal denial of these statements and affirm the truth of the doctrine of the church?

Pope Francis may think of this as an attempt to reach out to an old atheist near the end of his life in the hope of conversion is mercy and decide that the idea that the Pope has to deny contradicting Saints, Popes, Marian Apparitions and Christ himself is nonsense and if Francis was a local pastor and Scalfari was just some old man near the end of it days he might be right about that.

But in so thinking and doing or in this case again (amoris laetitia) failing to clearly and unambiguously confirm and repeat the Church’s doctrine, unchanged for its two thousand years, he has managed to not only take the focus away from the sacrifice of Christ for humanity during Holy Week but has actually brought the sacrifice of Christ and the Chruch’s understanding of it into question.

This is an own goal, a gift to the enemies of the church on earth and for the enemy of men’s souls in eternity and it’s what comes of thinking like a local pastor instead of the Pope of the Universal Church responsible for the faith of hundreds of millions.

Let us pray that through the grace of God that the Holy Father figures this out.