Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The English Martyrs

In today's first reading, the priests of the temple discover an old dusty book containing the forgotten law of the Lord.  When the king reads it, he is both overwhelmed by the magnificence of God's Word and frightened at the prospect that he has failed to lead the people in God's ways and will suffer his wrath.  He embarks on a campaign to bring the people to their knees before the Lord and return them to the path of fidelity and right living.  They forge a covenant with God - a pact to remain faithful to Him.

Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, by virtue of their baptism, entered into a relationship with God and forged a bond of fidelity and love with Him.  The truths of God's law and their Catholic faith were so much a part of them that they could not imagine being unfaithful to the Lord.  John Fisher had not walked for weeks in his prison cell in the Tower of London but, on the day of his beheading, he mustered every last ounce of strength to walk to his execution with confidence and purpose.  He and Thomas surrendered their lives for Christ rather than violate their faith. 

Today, as we observe not only the increasing secularization of the world but also the uncertainty, confusion and equivocation within the Church herself, we must pray for the conviction of the martyrs John and Thomas to fill the heart of every Christian - layperson and clergyman - so that we can know what we believe and reject what threatens the integrity of our faith.

Pandering, excusing and watering down was not the way of the English martyrs and it will never be effective in achieving the salvation of souls. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The problem is bigger than Orlando

The deadliest mass-shooting and the most devastating act of terror on American soil was carried out this past Saturday night.  I was saddened by the news that law-abiding citizens enjoying their freedom to party were gunned down by yet another radical Muslim. 

It could happen to any of us, anytime, in any public place.  Terrorism does not discriminate.  It's victims are Christians, Jews, persons who identify as LGBT, and anyone else the Muslim faith/the Koran itself or individual radicalized Muslims deem for their purposes to be an "infidel."  Yes, Islam targets LGBT people and believes the homosexual person is beneath them.  Still, any non-Muslim who is an affront to their beliefs and who does not accept Sharia Law is a potential victim.  No act of terrorism or new victim should come as a surprise to us anymore.  Men of the ilk of those who have been worked up into a frenzy sufficient to make them fly airplanes into buildings in the name of an alleged "god" will do anything to anyone. 

Quran (9:14) - "Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people." Humiliating and hurting non-believers not only has the blessing of Allah, but it is ordered as a means of carrying out his punishment and even "healing" the hearts of Muslims.

Quran (9:20) - "Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah's way are of much greater worth in Allah's sight. These are they who are triumphant." The Arabic word interpreted as "striving" in this verse is the same root as "Jihad". The context is obviously holy war.

Quran (9:30) - "And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"

Courtesy of:

A religious understanding which presents "Allah" or "God" as one calling for the murder of the innocent simply because they believe differently is both irrational and incompatible with the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Christians do not, and have never, believed in this.  Even in the time of the crusades and the inquisition, Christians have not attributed the thirst for the blood of the unbeliever to God.  Remember Regensburg?  They proved the Pope Emeritus' point for him by rioting the next day.  Seeking blood in the name of God is irrational.  Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the soul.

If this is Allah, he is not he God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, nor the God of the New Testament. 

Our politicians (we no longer have statesmen), including the presumptive Democratic nominee, keep telling us that these violent individuals, who carry out acts of terror in American soil, are "lone wolves" and "self-radicalized," as if they reach the conclusion to kill all on their own.  How, then, do we explain the coincidences - same faith, same demographics, same overseas connections, same "Allahu Akbar" cries, same insanity - between different terrorists. 

"By definition, "lone wolves" are not part of some global network you can detect and disrupt." - Matt Yglesias
This is the focus of the Left in American politics today: downplay the influence of radical Islam on terrorists and re-direct our attention on gun control.  However, the connection of so many terrorists to the Muslim faith through attendance at Mosque services as well as their ties to their ancestral homeland by definition makes them part of a "global network."  They frequent the same places and get their ideas form the same sources.  They are not lone wolves.  They have been radicalized by the version of Islam that they have encountered, which has formed them into jihadists.  The Orlando shooter is reported to have gone to Mosque services three times a week - frequent for any religion.  His parents immigrated from Afghanistan, where 95% of the people support Sharia Law.  There was a formation in certain ideas happening from an early age. 

Ms. Clinton said: “The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive."  Absolutely.  What is that virus?  It's not Christianity, nor the defense of God's definition of marriage, nor Catholicism, nor Republicans or Democrats, nor mere homophobia, nor the second amendment, nor reasonable and legal immigration.  The virus is a faith and philosophy that instructs its followers to kill the unbeliever.  If this is not "true Islam," let "true" Muslims" prove it and fight against the radicalized version.  Until then, we are left to wonder. 

Christians did not do this by being faithful to God.  While we assert that homosexual activity is a sin, so is murder.  Every human life is sacred and each person is to be respected.  One's orientation is not sinful, since morality deals with actions and not feelings or capacities.  The ACLU is a scourge on our nation.  They even use the opportunity to pretend they were right and have all the answers.  Such arrogance. 

The solution is not gun control because terrorists do not need to buy guns legally; guns, knives and explosives can be supplied to them through sources other than gun stores.  The solution is careful monitoring of immigration and allowing law enforcement to be more specific in their investigations.  Maybe it's time to profile a bit: middle-aged, middle-eastern men who have ties to countries which harbor terrorists and who seem unusually interested in weapons and flight schools, for example.  So often, the clues come out after the killings. 

The first step is to have a leader who is neither intimidated by nor complicit with radical Islam.  President Obama's lack of action on terrorism leads to one of those two possibilities.  I'm not sure which is worse. 

We all need to abandon the false world-view in which all religions are the same and face the facts about those who see Christianity as their enemy.  Christianity, by remaining true to the Bible, does not target the LGBT community.  No where in Scripture or Tradition is there a condemnation of the human person for being who they are.  It's our actions that have consequences. 

We need to escape the fantasy world of welcoming every immigrant without due process of law and concern for national security, pretending all religions are the same, and blaming American values for the terrorist threat.  Instead, we need to focus on understanding the threat, identifying the threat and neutralizing the threat. 

Saturday, June 04, 2016

What happens when you watch Megan Kelly and think too much...

Brilliant, famous, influential Catholics disagree on their opinions of Donald Trump.  To wit:

I have not made up my mind yet.  Sometimes is can see how valuable Trump’s strong policies and love for American exceptionalism are.  Other times he seems so angry and mean.  Do we want a leader who knows what is takes to insure American progress and security straight in his mind but is a jerk?  I’m not sure.  I do think that it’s not a good idea to tell Catholics that the one pro-life candidate who understands the rule of law and wants to protect our jobs and our borders is not worthy of their vote.  Since when do Catholics reject without cause or opportunity for reconciliation? 

Beyond the harsh exterior and the policy positions, there is another element of The Donald that came out during Megan Kelly’s first prime-time special two weeks ago.  Kelly asked not only political questions but probing personal ones.  When asked if he had ever been “wounded” by anyone, Trump had no answer.  He needed to think about it.  Kelly tried to open him up but he could not face the answers.  He appeared afraid to look inside himself and unwilling to consider those he wounded and those who wounded him.  He was unwilling to admit any regrets, something every healthy human person has to do. 

Trump said if he is ever wounded, he immediately fights back.  Furthermore, he comes across as defensive.  His attitude gives the impression that he believes that the large crowds at his campaign rallies give him a mandate to be angry.  Thus, he is justified in his vulgarity and does not have to meet people where they are and work with them. 

It’s possible that the tough outer shell is hiding much we have not seen about the real man.  When his wife Melania was interviewed, she showed viewers their palatial NYC apartment and spoke lovingly of Donald and his virtues.  Yet, when he is interviewed, he comes across with the vulgar attitude that gives rise to Weigel’s article. 

If he does not win the presidency, where most candidates find value in getting their ideas out for discussion and changing the political landscape by their campaigning, Trump said he would consider the whole campaign to be a “waste.”  Peculiar. 

It would be helpful if we all could know the man better before we make our choices.  If he learned the virtue of authentic humility (not to be confused with being a wimp) he would be a better man and candidate.    

An aside, now, regarding Megan Kelly’s show.  After Trump, she went on to interview a trans-sexual human being, who spoke of finding “my truth” and “living my dreams.”  Herein is encapsulated the “Dictatorship of Relativism” which Benedict XVI famously defined.  When an individual limits their life experience to having it their way, they are trapped in the confines of their own limitations and are not free to see all that the Lord has in store for them. 

In interviewing Trump, Kelly made the statement “You’re Jewish; I’m Catholic.  We both understand guilt.”  Trump was reluctant to open up – as I observed anyway – or to speak of hurts, wounds or regrets.  “Catholic guilt” is an unfortunate stereotype.  Guilt, in a healthy sense of remorse and contrition, leads to confession and reconciliation. 

Unfortunately, the culture around us mocks “guilt” and prefers a mentality of radical individualism.  The truth is: it’s far healthier for individuals and society to acknowledge sin, seek reconciliation and live, not for themselves, but for others.  Relativism is the crux of our societal struggles and God’s law is the medicine of their healing. 

Our great country needs a leader who will stem the tide of socialism and the dismantling of the Constitution begun in the last eight years through policies that weaken American stability, all the while promoting human flourishing, encouraging prosperity and safeguarding security.  There is no perfect statesman, or as we say today, politician.  There are some who can do far better than what we have experienced recently and others who have openly committed to building on a foundation of sand.  We also need Jesus Christ in order to be converted to a deeper sense of virtue, other-centeredness and respect for the dignity of the human person.  With God, all things are possible – even the conversion of a demagogue.  So, pray early and often. 

Friday, June 03, 2016


Since the recent conversation between the Holy Father and the international gathering of religious superiors in Rome, the airwaves and cyberspace have been flooded with talk of "ordaining deaconesses."

This action, if it were possible, would be an entirely novel invention by egalitarian ideologues.  Novelty is the enemy of the Church's Tradition, which is itself the path to eternal life.  At some point, such types need to face the facts that contradict their agenda.  To wit:

1. Romans 16 speaks of "our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the Church at Cenchrea."  This in no way indicates an office of deaconess, much less a ceremony of ordination to such an office.  The office of deacon was established after the word servant (diakonos) was being used in a general sense.  We use words even today in both an official and general sense, e.g. "a police officer" vs. "policing the area."  All it means is that she was a "servant of the church."  The Lord welcomed women into his company and the Church has always depended on the varied service of holy women.  Please read the article: "Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus" by James A. Borland. 

2. I Timothy 3: 12 ff refers to the qualifications of deacons and, in so doing, clearly identifies them as male (andres/viri).  The specific role of diakonos deacon is an office for which women are not qualified according to the description given by Saint Paul in I Timothy 3.  In the early Church, women had important roles of service - caring for the poor, assisting the elders, charitable works, helping with female catechumens - that were not in any way reserved to the ordained clergy.  As adult baptism waned, so did "women deacons."  (See Catholic Encyclopedia article on "Deaconesses")  The Church's traditions have developed in a particular direction since then, under the guidance of the Spirit. 

3. While women have been important leaders and contributors in the Church's history, they were never ordained.  Even though the Apostolic Constitutions contain evidence of a Bartholomew writing to another bishop in order to give him instructions on how to bless women for service in the Church using a ceremony that contains elements akin to an ordination, this does not mean that it was in fact an ordination.  Priests lay hands on people all the time and parishes hold commissioning ceremonies for liturgical minsters.  These blessings do not make them ordained clergy.  A "deaconess" (to use a fabricated transliteration) was a women of importance in her role of service to the Church but not an ordained clergy person.  Mother Superiors in the Middle Ages carried croziers, during which time some theologians mistakenly included religious vows as an eighth sacrament.  They wielded great power, as did Saint Joan of Arc, but this did not make them ordained. 

4. The 2002 report of the International Theological Commission (one of the advisory bodies operated by the CDF) titled From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles and the Vatican document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis along with its accompanying responsum ad dubitum clarifies both the role of female servants in the early Church and the deposit of faith regarding ordination of men only to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Nothing new can be unearthed somewhere by a new commission.

5. Holy Orders is one unified sacrament with three degrees - deacon, priest, bishop - and the rules and rituals governing it should express that. 

6. Modern egalitarianism is not a good reason to make innovative theological decisions.  It will be even more harmful to the Church than it is to the secular world.  We need to accept how God made us and calls us differently, for ordained ministry is from Him, not from human invention.  We need to follow the way of the Church and not the way of the world. 

Thus, if a new role for women is deemed to be essential to the life of the Church today, it would need to have a title that unambiguously distinguishes it from all that it is not: Holy Orders, vowed religious life, consecrated life, and consecrated virgins living in the world. 

Better yet, let us do all that we need to do to promote vocations and thrive in like manner to those diocese whose seminaries are filled.  Then the Church will grow as Christ intended and the priest shortage will not pressure us into ill-fated creativity.