The Blood of a Martyr

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With everything going on these days, in regard to the HHS Debacle, I can’t help but think that it is extremely fitting that the elevation to the Sacred College of Cardinals will happen this Saturday, almost a month following the announcement of the HHS Mandate.  The Cardinals, both old and new, are called to give their life to Christ.  This is represented by the color of their vesture- the red of the blood of a Martyr.

Yes, the scarlet of the Cardinal might look pretty, but it means nothing if he is not ready to shed their blood

This idea is seen most fittingly in a reflection provided by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal-Designate Dolan, written in A Call to Prayer and Joyful Witness.

Yes, becoming a cardinal is an honor, and many of you have been so kind in extending your good wishes and congratulations to me upon receiving it. Thanks! But it is not meant to be an honor without responsibility. To the contrary, cardinals are specifically asked to serve Jesus and His Church with renewed courage. When the Holy Father presents the “red hat” to the new cardinals, he will ask us to accept it as a sign of our readiness to shed our blood for the strengthening of the faith, the peace and tranquillity of the people of God, and the liberty and growth of the Church. Get it? Blood! Red!

Would you pray for me that I might do as I am asked, that I will be a courageous preacher of the Gospel, and defender of human dignity, the Church and our cherished religious freedom? I need more than your prayers though. I need your joyful witness, your solidarity. Just as the whole community shares in this honor, so too do we all share in the responsibility. If all this only means that I now dress up in a red cassock and red hat, we will have missed the whole point.

Are you ready to shed your blood? Every Christian disciple should aspire to be brave enough to do so. Please God, the day of shedding one’s blood for the faith will not come to New York, but the cardinalatial red should invite everyone to ask some questions and examine our consciences. As Blessed John Paul II observed, “If something is not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for.” God, family, faith, freedom, one’s country, friends, honor, virtue, life itself, the Church—all worth dying for . . . all worth living for!

For my part, I have to ask myself: Where do I show steadfastness now? If I can’t be courageous now in small things, how might I be ready to answer the summons to shed my blood in grave matters? Do I speak of the Gospel full and entire, with joy and conviction, even to those who appear to be indifferent or hostile? Do I defend the Church when she is maligned or attacked, or when her proper liberties are threatened? Do I stand fast with those around the world persecuted and even martyred for their faith, raising my voice in solidarity with them? Do I do my utmost, with the help of God’s grace, to live the virtues, especially those of humility and charity? Do I fight the daily battle to make room for God, in time set aside for prayer, the sacraments and works of service to others, especially those in need?

Might I invite you to ask those same questions? I hope that these days of the consistory in Rome be an occasion of renewed zeal throughout the [church], inaugurating an increasingly confident, joyful, courageous Catholic witness….

Pope Benedict XVI chose February 18 for the consistory because of its proximity to February 22, normally the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. (This year the feast will not be observed, as it is Ash Wednesday.) Peter’s final “chair” in Rome was the cross upside down, on a hill called “the Vatican,” and his martyr’s grave lies below the very spot where we new cardinals will receive the red biretta. The shedding of blood is not a metaphor; it is a reality.

There will be joy in Rome, but a sober joy. We are grateful to be Roman, to be Catholic, to be heirs to the promises of Christ and the blood of the martyrs. We renew our love for Christ, His Church, His Vicar on earth. We strengthen our courage to be witnesses of that love for the entire Church, and for the world that so urgently needs her witness.

That’s the significance of the consistory for new cardinals, for Rome, for New York.

And so,

Ad laudem omnipotentis Dei
et Apostolicæ Sedis ornamentum,
accipite biretum rubrum,
Cardinalatus dignitatis insigne,
per quod significatur usque ad sanguinis effusionem
pro incremento christianæ fidei,
pace et quiete populi Dei,
libertate et diffusione Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ
vos ipsos intrepidos exhibere debere.

To the glory of Almighty God
and the honour of the Apostolic See,
receive the scarlet biretta
as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate,
signifying your readiness to act with courage,
even to the shedding of your blood,
for the increase of the Christian faith,
for the peace and tranquillity of the people of God
and for the freedom and growth of Holy Roman Church.

Predestination, and more

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Yesterday, in my history class, we were, as you might remember, discussing John Calvin and his impact on the European Family.  Well, in order to accomplish this, we also had to go over some of his tenants.  One of the major ones is predestination.  Predestination uses biblical proof as support for Calvin’s claims that “many are called, but few are chosen.” Another claim is that because of predestination, there is no need to do works.

I then went to the 5:15 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where I had to fill in as the reader at the last second.  As I was reading the reading, which happened to be from the Epistle of James, I thought to myself how ironic it was that in class we discussed predestination and the protestant belief that because of predestination, works mean nothing, and then I was later reading James refuting this same idea.

Here is the reading, taken from James 1:19-27

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God.
Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess
and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.
But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres,
and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts;
such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

So, its obvious here that we learn, from someone who was an apostle of Christ, one who walked the earth and learned directly from our King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, that faith without works means nothing!  Predestination, which is one of their main tenants, disproved!!!  [This is done more strongly later in the same letter, but to find that quote requires time which I don’t have right now.]

The Family and The State

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In my history class today, we were discussing Calvinism, and, in part, how it led to the growth of not only the State, but also the State’s involvement in Family life.  As I was contemplating this idea, I jotted down on an extra sheet of paper the following:

Calvinism leads to the Consistory in Geneva
Consistory in Geneva leads to State Intervention in the Family Life
State Intervention in the Family in Calvinism relates to The Obama Administration
One of the many atrocities of the Obama Administration is the HHS Mandate
 

So, before I can get all the way through this, I guess that I had better start at the beginning.  While in the midst of starting a new religion, John Calvin fled to Geneva, Switzerland.  After a number of years, began to reform the city.  This led to the creation of the Consistory.  The Consistory was the judicial body in Geneva, and, due to the strict order that Calvin wanted in his city, chances are that one would be called before them for one reason or another within a ten year span.  

Due to the fact that most people were called before the consistory for one thing or another, the Consistory not only slowly began to get more involved in family life.  Because of this, punishments became much more harsher.  There were small penalties for things like not knowing your prayers in French (God help the poor woman who goes and recites Ave Maria, gratia plena… in Latin) to death for repeated adultery.  I get that it’s the 16th century and there were different beliefs about punishment, but really?  Death because someone couldn’t keep their damn pants on???   

I continue, lest I begin digressing about this.  So we see that the Consistory led to state intervention in family life, especially since the Consistory was certainly running the show in Geneva.  How does this connect to today, you may be asking.

Well, in November of 2008, a very confused American People, and in that group, the majority of Catholic voters, elected a man named Barack Obama to the White House.  Since day one, he has been doing all he can to interfere with the private life of families in America.  Fast forward to January 20, 2012.  Kathleen Sullivan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a “Catholic”, [For the record, due to her clear public stance on Abortion, I fully support the Prelates of the Church that have told her not to receive Holy Communion, but I digress yet again.] decreed that the Obama administrations original mandate requiring all institutions to provide birth control at no cost.  This isn’t the state intervening in family life, per-say, but it is intervening instead on RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.  One of the founding principles of this country.  We see history repeating itself.  The state interfering in things it really has no right to interfere on.  Religious Liberty is why we are fighting the Obama administration on this.  Yes, being forced to provide birth control is horrible, but it is not the heart of the issue at stake here. Religious Liberty is.  

So, history always seems to repeat itself.  500 years ago, we had the consistory of Geneva interfering in people’s lives and killing them for not being able to keep their pants on.  Now, we have the Obama administration interfering in people’s lives, and ultimately, Religious Libertyforcing those who object to artifical birth control to pay for it so their employees don’t.  Ironically, this also leads to people’s deaths, yet again because people can’t keep their pants on.  There is no need to be providing birth control, let alone free birth control.  But, yet again, I start digressing… This is a topic for another post.

P.S.  The only good kind of Consistory will happen this Saturday.  That is the Elevation of new Cardinals to the Sacred College of the Holy Roman Church.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

“Catholics for Choice”

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As I was reading blogs and reflecting on the excellent lecture that His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., I got thinking about why I haven’t posted on the debacle that is the Health and Human Services announcement like The American Papist, Thomas Peters, Rocco Palmo, and smaller bloggers, like my friend here, who took the time to examine specific statistics which have been thrown around a lot these past few days.  I, however, won’t be posting links to official statements, like Rocco or Thomas, or examining specific statistics that have been thrown around these past few days.  I will be talking about something else.  Something, while related, has a little following of itself.

There is a group that calls themselves “Catholics for Choice”.  This “choice” that they are talking about is not a good choice at all, for they claim that it is necessary to be able to not only have birth control, but abortions as well.  These Catholics, who say that they are for choice, do not understand that there is only one logical choice that they can be for.  That choice is that of life, and not using contraceptives and abortifacients, which is what this group pushes for.

Today, in the inaugural lecture on Faithful Citizenship, hosted by The Catholic University of America Knights of Columbus, in conjunction with the Catholic Apostolate Center and The Catholic University of America, His Eminence mentioned many things that stuck with me, and a few of them apply to this topic that I am speaking of here.

First off, His Eminence mentioned that “one cannot be authentically Catholic and not be pro-life at the same time.”  He then went on to say that not only are out consciences freeing things, even though it may not seem that way, and that being pro-life is not enough, it’s about the dignity of every human person.  These three statements really bring out that points about why Catholics cannot be for choice in the areas that these so called “Catholics for Choice” are calling for.

Number one, they have consciences.  While we may think that their consciences are poorly formed, they still have them.  Number two, we need to approach these people on the streets.  We need to talk to them.  With love.  None of this I’m right and you’re wrong.  Yes, we may be right in some respects, but we need to dialogue with them about these issues.  We need to sit down with them face to face, find out why they believe that it is right to have a choice in these issues,  and then, using nothing but love and care, explain why they hold the wrong positions.  This isn’t accomplished by yelling and screaming, or by denying communion.  For, how do we know that these “Catholics for Choice” didn’t go to confession 15 minutes ago, or have a change of heart 20 minutes ago before entering the Church for Mass?  There are issues that we need to turn to Rome to, and I believe that the one of invoking Canon 915 is one of them.  For, we, as Catholics follow the lead and example of His Holiness.  The fact that not only has he not denied anyone communion, but he has not said that it should be done either is a pretty clear sign that we shouldn’t either.

So, as Catholics, can we chose?  Well, to use contraceptives, abortifacients, and to have abortions- the answer is no.  These were spelled out very clearly in the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae.  He states very clearly the Church’s position on the issues regarding human life.  However, I come bearing great news!  There are things that you can choose!  You, as a Catholic can choose whether to go to a Mass that is sung or said.  You can choose to go to a Mass with incense or no incense.  You can choose to pray the rosary or the divine office, charisimatic or quiet prayer.  However, we cannot choose to use these evil contraceptives, abortifacients, or to have abortions.  That is clear.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us.

N.B. I refuse to link to the group Catholics for Choice.  They get enough traffic as it is, and I have no need or desire to increase that traffic.

The Reformation Family

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Today in my history class, we focused on The Reformation Family.  Now, the family during the Reformation was pretty similar to the family after the reformation.  Before the Reformation, men and women got married, had children, and did whatever line of work they were in, whatever it happened to be.  The average marriage lasted fifteen years, and ended because one spouse died, either during childbirth, or of an illness, or war.  In addition to this, chances are that the living spouse would remarry ASAP, especially if there were surviving children.

The biggest change to the reformation family was an increased light shown on the family.  In Catholicism, the family was there, and the more children that there were, the less likely it was for all of the children to go off and get married.  Because of this, there was a huge increase of people joining Monasteries, Convents, and the Sacred Priesthood.  While this, in and of itself, is a great thing, they were entering for the wrong reason- because the family had too many children and thus not all were able to get married.

Following the reformation,  there were many more marriages, because the reformers took the humanist ideals that marriage is good and celibacy is bad.  This led to a huge number of priests and nuns leaving the priesthood and convents, respectively.  This meant that there were many more people getting married.

So, more people getting married, yet Luther gets rid of marriage as a sacrament.  Can anyone figure that one out???  I get that he is all for sola scripture, but can anyone show me how marriage isn’t a sacrament???? I mean, Jesus states that

But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Here, in Mark 10:6-9, Jesus not only clearly establishes Marriage as a Sacrament, but also forbids divorce.   Divorce… what a fun idea, one to tackle in a future post…

Families: A Modern Attack on a Historical Institution

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Be attentive to our prayers, O Lord and in your kindness uphold what you have established for the increase of the human race, so that the union you have created may be kept safe by your assistance.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for the Nuptial Mass, Editio Typica Tertia, ICEL 2010)

In my prior post on families, I quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that a family is a covenant by which a man leaves his family and takes a wife, in which they become one, and their purpose is to procreate the world.  The Catechism goes on to say that the family is a “domestic church.”  Specifically, it states

 1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.168 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”1691657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.”170 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.”171 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

These two quotes pack a large amount of information in them, and they go back a long time, even before the Catechism of the Council of Trent was published.  The church truly believes that the family is, first and foremost, the place of education and learning, one of nurturing, one of the witness of the love that Christ gave for his bride, his family- The Church.

The family has been a generally protected institution until modern times.  This is seen all throughout history, especially in the Medieval Era.  Throughout the High Middle Ages, one saw the family getting the respect that they deserved, even if they happened to be very different practices than we today are used to.  The families of old were very oriented towards protecting themselves, which is the opposite of what we see today.  Yes, they were worried that the name might not continue or that money might be lost.  Heck, most of the time love wasn’t even the main concern.

Today, we see many different attacks on the family from all different parts of society.  It is no longer considered the sacred institution that it once was, no longer understood as a domestic church whose sole purpose is to protect the children.  Chances are, these days, that one runs into someone trying to redefine what marriage is, and, by proxy, the family.  To protect the family, marriage must be protected as a Sacred Institution between one man and one woman.  The state MUST stop interfering in families, and must respect Right of the Religious Institutions to protect the family, especially since the State is dead set on destroying it.

I would like to end this post with two things.  The first is a quote on the Holy Family from Father Z.  He says, on the Holy Family, that,

God Incarnate chose to begin manifesting this sacrificial love, which reached its culmination on the Cross, in the family home.

Together with Mary and His earthly father Joseph, Christ began to reveal something of the unity of love within the most perfect of communions, the Holy Trinity.

It is fitting to celebrate the Holy Family within the Octave of Christmas when we contemplate the coming of the Lord in imitation of that final, perfect communion with God to be enjoyed only by the blessed in heaven.

The family is a paradigm of all other human relationships. The Holy Family teaches us, who are still in this world but moving inexorably toward our judgment and final goal, how to live – together – in this present state of “already, but not yet”.

The second is the Collect for the Feast of the Holy Family.

O God, who were pleased to give us
the shining example of the Holy Family,
graciously grant that we may imitate them
in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity,
and so, in the joy of your house,
delight one day in eternal rewards. Amen

(Editio Typica Tertia, ICEL 2010)

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Ora pro Nobis

St. Joseph, the Most Chaste Spouse, Ora pro Nobis

St. Anne, Ora pro Nobis

St. Joachim, Ora pro Nobis

Just a short aside:  As you may know, the Department for Health and Human Services gave Religious Institutions one year to comply with regulations that violate their consciences.  Regulations that force religious institutions to demean families, and, specifically women, by forcing them to provide free birth control, and eventually, abortion, to these women who deserve much better.  Please take 5 minutes to sign this petition to rescind the HHS mandate.  Every signature counts.

Families: The Early Church

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For so many in society today, when one hears the word “family” in conversation, it evokes a number or reactions. They can be good, or bad. Happy or dad. Exciting or boring. No matter what the reaction is, everyone has one when they hear the word family. For my history class, I will be adding a couple of posts a week about families, and how they relate to Catholicism.

For this past class, we read thoughts on Marriage and Families from two great saints of the Church, Sts. Augustine and John Chrysostom. Because the class started with the Church, I figured it would be fitting if I started with Holy Mother Church as well, and see how she not only defines a family, but what intrinsically makes up a family. For this, I can think of no where better to look than the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism, quoting the Codex Iuris Canonici, defines Marriage as

The Matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

It is clear that Marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, who are joined together as one in Holy Matrimony, to procreate. This idea that man and woman are to be joined together in Holy Matrimony is see in the teaching of many different people in the early Church. One of these is St. Augustine, who, in his Confessions, recounted the days before his conversion. St. Augustine, in writing These confessions, mentions not only that he had a concubine of many years, with whom he had a child, but that he was also engaged to be married to a 10 year old. Instead of going through with this wedding right away, St. Augustine decided that he would wait until she was of legal age, an age in which she could bear children.

So, basically, Holy Mother Church defines marriage as a sacramental bond between a man and his wife, in order to bear children. The saints, especially St. Augustine, helped the Early Church through writing his confessions, and thus, bringing the fact that he was to marry a 10 year old, but didn’t because she was not able to bear children, an important part of the Church’s definition of marriage. in fact, the same Church that went on the declare him a Saint.