Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fun with Christmas Toys

A Rodeo Allegory

Ranching was the only life the seven McDermott boys knew in eastern Oklahoma. Unlike other children in modern America, the McDermott's grew up in a religious home with its most prominent display of, not a large plasma TV, but rather a life sized statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, their spiritual Mother in Heaven.

Mrs. McDermott would tell her children:

"Jesus, our Lord, is both God and Man. Jesus proved this by his many miracles - the most important proof was when He rose from the dead. The Apostle St. Thomas didn't believe this last miracle until he saw Jesus. Then Thomas said to Him, 'My Lord and my God.' As God, Jesus fulfilled the promise of a Redeemer God made to Adam after Adam sinned that day long ago in the Garden of Eden. This is why Christmas is so special - we celebrate God becoming man to save us from the sin we inherited from Adam. He came to correct Adam's wrong and reopen the gates of Heaven for you and me, giving us, as God promised, the New Covenant, His Church. As Man, Jesus - the new Adam - gave the human race a new start and showed us how to follow God's Covenant and how to please the Father in Heaven. Since Christ was both Man and God, He perfectly kept the commandments including the 4th: Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. Since Jesus is the new Adam, he is our good brother in the human race, therefore we should honor the Father in Heaven and honor our Mother in Heaven, Mary. After all, what Kingdom has a King, but no Queen? When you boys get big, you keep our family photo albums, there are wonderful memories in them. You also keep this statue of your other family member, Mary. She's family too, together with all the Saints in Heaven. Our statues are like our family photo albums."

Childhood memories on this Catholic ranch involved the rigors of ranch life - throwing hay, stretching fence, rounding strays on horseback - but it also included the tranquility of working the land that God created and prayer. As they grew older they became top hands and developed a reputation of fairness at their cattle sales. The harder they worked the land and invested in the gifts that God gave them, the greater their returns in both profit and spiritual growth. This devotion to duty also gave them the reputation of steadfast strength.

However Martin, took this to an irrational extreme for no good purpose. The more unscathed he emerged from each risk that he took, the more self inflated he became. As Martin grew up, his brothers around him matured in the faith while he remained rather prideful and selfish.

The oldest brothers, Peter, James, and John, grew in wisdom and piety. They successfully operated not only the 6,400 acre family-owned ranch, but also their own roping and penning arena. They volunteered to help neighboring ranchers brand and inoculate their cattle, as well as train other green cowboys to master the trade of horsemanship. The arena was also wisely used to hone their own roping, penning, and cutting job skills. All three gave thanks to God for the healthiest livestock in the state. God blessed each and every endeavor from these eldest sons and they never forgot to return God praise and thanks. They did this partly by serving at daily mass and by generously providing for their aging parents and the needs of those less fortunate around them. The McDermott brothers grew up knowing that God helps His friends, not his enemies. Although not all the brothers were as steadfast.

This morning began as usual with a low Latin mass at 0600 in the country chapel of Immaculate Conception Church.

The previous day, Martin managed to talk a professional stock contractor into letting him kennel two of the world's most popular and rankest bulls from the PBR Circuit named Vanity and his next closest kin, Pride.

Martin was much too eager to tempt fate against these dangerous beasts and even enticed his younger brother into giving his two new acquaintances a whirl in the arena. The twins, blinded by glory, wanted their own piece of the action by doing some rodeo clowning against the bulls.

Today, they offered their two younger brothers a quick trip from mass to the arena on their ATV's zooming past their older brothers who orderly walked the distance to the church.


As Peter, James, and John departed from mass blessing themselves with holy water, Martin the twins and his younger brother left in a raucous belch of exhaust from their ATV's, whooping "Let's take 'em boys!"

They arrived excitedly with their reckless ambitions for glory and daring buffoonery and to see their first glimpse of the world renowned bulls.


With a leap and a holler, the two younger brothers hastily threw their gear over the fence and dove after their fame.

While George gathered his gear he felt a whoosh under his hat and turned to watch Martin faceplant in the manure tilled earth of the arena. Shaking his head, George asked, "You okay?"


As they were gearing up George admonished Martin for his usual recklessness saying, "You know, you've gotta stop acting like you're invincible." Martin retorted, "Don't you remember that I'm older than you? Let me give you some experienced advice little brother: let a real man instruct you in the ways of life."


George replied, "Great! Where can I find one?"

After gearing up they met up with the twins who, in the meantime, outfitted themselves as rodeo clowns, ready to take on the Brahmas. They looked at the bulls and discussed the animals bucking patterns.


Vanity, a tan colored, shy looking bull, appeared harmless, young, and inexperienced, but once it was tried, would lead every bull rider down a long perilous journey through the arena. Vanity would toy with his passenger, deceptively breaking out of the chute into a predictable straight buck, deceiving the rider into thinking he can easily cover the 8 seconds and impress a full crowd. Only at 7.8 seconds when the rider thought that he triumphed in glory and honor would the bull finally dump its rider with a dramatic belly roll in full spectacle of the grandstands.

Meanwhile Peter, James, and John arrived and began a similar discussion about the popular, experienced, and notorious bull, Pride, as the bull watched out of the corner of his ugly worn out eye.


Peter leaned against the gate and explained, "Out of the seven deadliest bulls in the world, Pride has killed more men then all seven combined. There's nothing deceptive about him, you know his moves, a powerful jerk out of the chute, then he goes into a rage of twisting and spinning - always to the left - and once he's got you off he belows in triumph. It takes advantage of any mistake the rider makes. If the rider shows one flaw, Pride will eventually exploit it to your ruin. Boys, there's nothing worse than Pride. It's as if the devil himself invented him." At that the bull quickly spun around in agitation of the cowhands behind him and snorted loudly. The three brothers, all in unison, exclaimed, "Whoa!!"

Peter subsequently turned to his reckless younger brothers and cautioned, you boys better think again before trying to take on Pride and Vanity. Martin scoffed and hollered back, "load 'em up".


George was first to ride and he picked Vanity. He admitted, "Vanity appears a little less experienced, but Pride . . . well, I'm just not that brash to say I can stick a spur into him."

Peter, James, and John stated, "it's your free will, if your mind is that stubbornly set into hooking into one of the 7 deadliest bulls in the world, then we'll oblige." James helped George rosin his rope while Peter cinched it tight across George's palm. Martin merely looked on without even as much as a word of encouragement while, apprehensively awaiting his turn.

The clowns waited impatiently, repeatedly checking the time when George started to give the nod.


James jumped in and said, "Hold it, hold it. George, at least make the sign of the cross before your ride."

George wasn't that foolish or proud to admit that this was probably a good idea seeing that Vanity was a universally popular bull. So George proceeded: "In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. . . . Let's go boys!"


As meek as Vanity appeared, he charged out of the chute with a bang, meanwhile keeping its innocent appearance. It bucked straight down the arena and the ride went surprisingly well for George until he was dumped at 7.8 seconds . . . in front of the grandstands.


George emerged embarrassed and sore, but otherwise uninjured. As he later admitted, "my back hurt, my legs hurt, my arms hurt . . . heck, even my hair hurt."

Now Martin, instead of trusting in the sign of salvation, the sign of the cross, as he was instructed throughout his childhood, superstitiously dug up a used white shirt "for good luck". A superstition similar to what he had witnessed in all the sporting events he had participated in. While he changed, the twin brothers had an idea of their own: to bullfight Pride.


The quick bull turned out to be no match for the bullfighters as the bull first outran, outwitted, then overran the stumbling clown as bystanders covered their eyes in fear.


Pride proceeded to toss one, then another, and another about the arena like ragdolls.


Finally, Pride was lured into the bullpen for Martin's ride. Martin readied himself in the chute, and with his superstitious practice in operation quoted Chris Ledoux saying, "open the gate an itty bitty crack". The next scene summarized Martin's attempt with Pride.

The bull then repeated his rampage of destruction around the arena. Pride didn't care who he hurt. He even hooked into John, flicking him out of the arena and sent James running down the fenceline.


Peter, meanwhile, simply held his ground like a rock holding the rope to the gate.

Martin regained his composure and tried again, this time switching to his white hat. A gesture, he presumed, would bring him better luck.


The superstition again proved costly. As Pride exploded out of the chute Martin's rope twisted over his riding hand. Leaving him "hung up in the well."


James desperately tried to free his hand while the clowns distracted the dangerous beast. Peter even had a close call, although he never left his ground.

Exasperated, Martin gave up trying to ride pride for glory and honor. Instead, he thought he might cover 8 seconds of fame on a seemingly less provocative bull, Vanity. His superstitions continued as this time he borrowed George's riding chaps. With determination Martin completely ignored making the sign of the cross and murmured Frank Sinatra's adage, "I'll do it my way". The gate creaked open and the bull drove it open wide with its broad body.

Predictably, the bull went straight down the arena giving Martin a false sense of accomplishment and recognition. That is, until at 7.7 seconds when, in Vanity's typical fashion, the bull rejected its rider to Martin's embarrassment.

The superstitious cowboy, now fresh out of lucky combinations, save one, rubbed his old black hat for 'good luck' and thought for sure that his everyday working cover would finally produce his desired result. These silly superstitions finally caught up to the young cowboy, who certainly knew better. Vanity must have had enough when immediately out of the gate he dove into the air twisting his torso and causing the rider to slam into the ground with a thud. Then Martin was charged while everyone scrambled to rescue him.


Vanity was surprisingly unstoppable in the arena causing injuries, diving over the barrel, and trampling cowboys.


When everyone emerged they quickly penned the animals and sent them packing back to their owners. Martin, needing his hand amputated, finally admitted self defeat vowing never again to use superstition or to attempt Pride and Vanity.

Years later the brothers donated the ranch to a Carmelite convent in need of a home. Soon after they founded a Carmelite missionary order in following St. Therese of Lisieux's vision.


This time embarking on new, more self fulfilling adventures in life: to conquer not the world's idea of success, but to conquer themselves; and to work, not for their own glory, but for God's.

(Reference of names to real persons are purely coincidental)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blessing the Christmas Tree & Manger Scene

Since Advent is a penitential season the Christmas Tree is traditionally displayed on Christmas Eve in final preparation for Christmas and then blessed. The Nativity Scene in our home is set up in stages throughout Advent, then blessed on Christmas Day while adding the Child Jesus. I'll admit we don't always perfectly adhere to the following time line, but we try to do it something like this:

The stable is set up on the First Sunday of Advent. The next Sunday, livestock and empty manger are positioned. On the Third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday (Latin: 'To Rejoice'), is the same weekend that the Christmas Tree generally arrives in our home. This Sunday in Advent reminds us and mankind that our redemption is near as Christ soon approaches. At Mass the sacred ministers are clothed in rose colored vestments (the color of joy), flowers are allowed back on the altar, and the organ is once again played as on feast days. The arrival of the tree in the home coincides perfectly with Gaudete Sunday since the evergreen is the symbol of hope and eternity. Branches from the tree can also be added to the Manger Scene today. The Fourth Sunday of Advent brings the arrival of the Expectant Mother, Mary, her chaste spouse St. Joseph, and the donkey (this can also be done on Christmas Eve). With the arrival of Mary, we also place pine cones among the evergreen branches. Pine cones symbolize fertility and new life (because of the abundance of seeds in the cone). Before Midnight Mass and during the blessing of the Nativity Scene, described below, baby Jesus can be placed in the manger. On Christmas morning, the angel can appear together with the shepherds and their flock. Finally, on the twelfth day of Christmas, the Magi make their appearance on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6 which marks the visit by the three wise men.

The festive 12 days of celebrating Christmas traditionally begins with Midnight Mass. After the tree has been decorated and lit the family gathers near the tree while the Father initiates the sign of the cross.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE BLESSING

Father or Leader. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All. Who made Heaven and earth.

Antiphon (Father or Leader).
All the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord, for He comes.

(Psalm 95 begs us to praise the Lord and sings of His coming at the end of time. Our Lord warned us to watch for the signs of His Second Coming in the Gospel for the first Sunday in Advent. We add, this night, our anticipation of His first coming).

Psalm 95 (can alternate reading the lines).

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all ye lands: Sing to the Lord, bless His name, announce His salvation, day after day:

Among the heathen tell His glory, His marvels to every people.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, to be feared more than all the gods:
The gods of the heathen are nothings, but the Lord - He made the Heaven.
Glory and majesty stand before Him, strength and splendor are in His sanctuary.
Declare to the Lord, ye families of nations, declare to the Lord His glory and strength:
declare to the Lord the glory of His name:
Offer sacrifice and come into His courts: worship the Lord in holy attire,
Tremble before Him, all the earth! say among the nations: The Lord is King.
He has set the earth firm, not to be moved, He rules the peoples with justice.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice, the sea thunder with all its waves:
Let the fields be glad, and all their creatures, all the trees of the wood shout for joy
Before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to rule the earth:
He will judge the world with justice, and the peoples with His truth.

Antiphon repeated (Leader). All the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord, for He comes.

Leader. Lesson from the Prophet Ezechiel, 17:22-24.

Thus said the Lord God: I Myself will take the top of the high cedar, and will set it: I will crop off a tender twig from the top of the branches thereof, and I will plant it on a mountain high and eminent. On the high mountains of Israel will I plant it and it shall shoot forth into branches, and shall bear fruit, and it shall become a great cedar: and all the birds shall dwell under it, and every fowl shall make its nest under the shadow of the branches thereof, and all the trees of the country shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and exalted the low tree: and have dried up the green tree, and have caused the dry tree to flourish. I the Lord have spoken and have done it.

All. Thanks be to God.

Leader. And there shall Come forth a shoot.
All. Out of the root of Jesse.
Leader. In Him was life.

Leader. O Lord hear my prayer.
All. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Leader. The Lord be with you.
All. And with thy spirit.
Leader. Let us pray. Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, Who hast caused Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be planted like a tree of life in Thy Church, by being born of the most Holy Virgin Mary, bless, we beseech Thee, this tree that all who see it may be filled with a holy desire to be ingrafted as living branches into the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of " the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.

All. Amen. (Sprinkles tree with holy water.)

Then the family can sing a hymn. The blessing of a manger scene can then follow, can occur before Midnight Mass, or on Christmas Day, but should occur after the Child Jesus is placed in the manger:

THE MANGER SCENE BLESSING

Leader
: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

Leader. A continuation of the holy gospel according to Saint Luke:

The birth of Jesus. In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

Or: Isaiah 7:10-15--The birth of Emmanuel.

Leader. God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.

Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

All. Amen.


Source: Book of Blessings Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops' Conferences, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1989


THE CHRISTMAS TREE BLESSING

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Connecticut Atheists reveal their true agenda

Atheists are not really A-theist. They do worship a god, it's just not the One True God; the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Pope Benedict. A recent article covers how a group of Connecticut atheists have taken "advantage of a town's policy of allowing holiday-season displays in its public park" by putting up a 10-foot tall sign celebrating the winter solstice. An idea in modern society, that is, celebrating a Christless Christmas, that Pope Benedict calls 'senseless'. The sign reveals what god they really do worship.

Part of the sign reads: ". . .
Today we know that there are no gods, and that the sun moves by natural causes, and we celebrate not only the movement of the sun but our ability to understand that movement." Their fancy wordplay only reveals their true colors. They have placed not only themselves as gods with humanistic-self-grandisement, but have chosen the sun as their modern 'golden calf' to worship, bypassing the Creator for the creation. What is trumpeted as atheism today, was for past centuries more accurately referred to as idolatry.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Causa Nostrae Laetitiae - Cause of Our Joy

Our Blessed Mother brings joy out of sorrow. The Hail Mary, petitioning Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of Our Savior, and Help of Christians to help her 'other' children, those who love, know, and serve Jesus Christ:
"And the dragon was angry against the woman; and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and give testimony to Jesus Christ" - The Apocalypse (Revelations) Chapter 12:17.

Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Ten Most Common Abuses in Modern Mass

Catholic Answers featured an article by the author of Why Do Catholics Do That?, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D, in which he outlines the problems still plaguing our modern liturgy.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Tree Decorating Tradition

Why we wait to decorate our tree until Christmas Eve.


For the past few years our family has practiced this tradition as opposed to decorating the tree immediately after it is positioned in the home. Ideally, I would like to place the tree in the home on Christmas Eve however, this is almost as unpopular as opening gifts the day after Christmas. The family endures an undecorated tree until Christmas Eve for good reason. Its roots are echoed in our salvation history.

Differing from those homes and shops with beautifully adorned Christmas trees long before Christmas Day, the family endures a kind of expectation, an awaiting for more than just gifts. This suffering, so to speak, has its spiritual rewards. Yes, the mean dad has his good reasons.

The effect of waiting to decorate a tree, alongside with waiting to open gifts, further anticipates the expectation of Christ in a however non-consumerist way. The effect is similar to the long awaited four thousand year expectation of the Promised Messias for mankind's redemption. It is consistent with the preparation for Christmas that the Church provides us with in the Advent season tradition. For it is not until Christmas morning that the tree display is finally fulfilled with long awaited beauty and finally sparkling with long anticipated adornment. Throughout Advent the family knows that not until the Incarnation of the Redeemer, will the tree be lit just as not until the Incarnation was the promise of the light of salvation revealed. This relief and satisfaction of a promise fulfilled translates to a deep and real appreciation of the true expectation experienced with mankind's longing for the Messias and God's making good on His promise to the world.

An argument can be attempted that the same effect is achieved by waiting until Christmas morning to open gifts. There are, in my estimation, deep problems with this solitary approach towards celebrating Christmas. When I grew up I spent my evenings before Christmas gazing upon our decorated tree, thinking nothing more than the momentous unwrapping of gifts. We had our religious traditions, lighting the advent wreath candles, placing the Christ Child into the nativity set on Christmas Day, etc. but I soon discovered that celebrating Christmas too soon, that is, adorning our home inside and out with festive party decor as if Christmas was a 32 day ordeal, led to a sort of battle fatigue by the time Christmas Day arrived. The 'Christmas blues', that we hear about, I believe stems from this kind of fatigue. Christmas is celebrated in the 12 days AFTER the Feast of the Incarnation, not a month before. Spending Advent and then Christmas Day in an exhausting ritual of purchases, ripping apart wrapping paper, and sifting through styrofoam, in my experience was tiresome, boring, and just plain shallow. Not that this was ever the focus of Christmas in my childhood, as my parents and local priests did their duty in instilling Christ as the center of the Advent season. Nevertheless, the allurements of the world as seen in a constant stream of commercials and 'holiday' music can take its toll on our perception of what should be a penitential season.

Pope Benedict XVI recently lamented this type of consumerism at his Dec. 8, 2007 noon blessing in St. Peter's Square:

"I think about today's young people, raised in an environment saturated with messages proposing false models of happiness . . . These boys and girls risk losing hope because they often seem to be orphans of true love, which fills life with meaning and joy . . . adolescents, youths and even children are easy victims of the corruption of love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to them, draw them into the dead-end streets of consumerism."

And again at his Dec. 11, 2007 noon blessing in St. Peter's Square where he called for conversion saying:

"men and women of our time, who live and receive Christmas in such a way that unfortunately, they often suffer from a materialistic mentality.

. . . at the end of our days on earth, at the time of death, we will be judged according to our likeness or unlikeness with the child that is born in the poor cave of Bethlehem, because he is the standard of measure that God gave mankind. . . [St. John the Baptist's] clear and harsh words – I agree- are much healthier for us, men and women of our time, where the way of life and frequent perception of Christmas unfortunately suffers from a materialistic mentality. The 'voice' of the great prophet calls us to prepare the way for the Lord to come, in the deserts of today, deserts outside and inside, thirsty for the living water that is Christ."

Unfortunately, in modern cultures Christmas Day is stripped down with a rush of opening gifts and hopefully attending Mass on the Feast Day itself. By adopting other traditions - arrival of Jesus in the crib of the manger scene, arrival of the sheep and shepherds in the manger scene, lighting the outside lights and the Christmas tree beginning first on Christmas Day, all can contribute to our true joy fulfilled in anticipating the Day long awaited by the human race. A joy that reminds us of our last end and true vocation in life - to get to heaven.

The whole objective with all this is to turn our hearts toward our redemption and how merciful God is to mankind and to us. It'd be nice to wait until Christmas Eve for the tree itself - an old Christmas tradition or maybe using such a repulsive plant (like a Joshua tree) that the children's thoughts, and ours can be turned away from gifts. This, as well as keeping the Christmas films and music packaged away until the Feast Day - December 25 - when, for the next 12 days, we can celebrate in full splendor (music, singing, lights, prayer, and appropriate entertainment) the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sermon on the Second Sunday of Advent by Saint John Vianney

St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)
Patron Saint of Parish Priests
The Incorrupt Body of the Cure' of Ars Rests in the Basilica at Ars, France

Excerpts from Sermons of the Cure d'Ars, printed in 1901, reproduced in 1995 by Neumann Press :

"Memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccabis."

"In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin." Ecclus. vii. 40

How is it that these truths, which have converted so many sinners, make so little impression upon us? Ah! my brethren, that is because we do not take them to heart sufficiently. Nothing is more likely to draw us away from ourselves and from the goods of this world,nothing so powerful to spur us on to bear better the sufferings of this life in a spirit of penance, than an earnest consideration of these truths.

Behold, my brethren, how much Jesus Christ wishes to save us; at one time he appears to us as a poor child in the crib, lying on a handful of straw, which He moistens with His tears; again treated like a criminal, bound, pinioned, crowned with thorns, scourged, falling under the weight of the cross, and dying in martyrdom out of love for us. If this is not capable of moving us, drawing us towards Him, then He announces to us that He will one day come, clothed in the radiance of His glory and the Majesty of His Father, to judge us without clemency and without mercy; where before the whole world He will reveal the good and the bad which we have committed in the course of our lives. Tell me, dear brethren, if we rightly considered all this, should we require anything further to make us live and die like Saints?

But for a Christian, dear brethren, who has lost sight of his last aim, the matter has quite another aspect; the shortness of life is a trouble and a bitter thought which disturbs him in the midst of his pleasures; he does his utmost to keep this thought of death far from him. Everything that reminds him of it frightens him, doctors and remedies; everything is tried to keep away the thought that death is near. He is in pursuit of happiness on earth, but he deceives himself. Whilst this poor unfortunate man forsakes God, God forsakes him. He will be obliged at the end of his days to admit that he has spent his life seeking for a good which he never found. Outside of God, oh, so many sufferings, so much misery, and no consolation, no recompense! Ah, death, the consolation of the just, brings only despair to him; he must die, and he has never once given thought to it.

My God, how blind we are concerning our everlasting happiness. Ah, my brethren; tell me had the great Saints, whom we admire, another Gospel to follow? Did they have another religion to practice? Had they another God to serve; another eternity to fear or to hope? No; certainly not, my brethren; but they had a faith which we have not, which, through the multitude of our sins, we have almost extinguished; but they worked zealously for the salvation of their soul, whilst we leave our poor soul without attention.

To whom do we give our hearts? What have we done for God, who is our first and last aim? What zeal and what ardor have we shown for the glory of God, and the salvation of our poor soul, which has cost Jesus Christ such bitter sufferings? What have we got to offer him? What answer can we give to all His questions, when on the one hand He will hold up to us all the graces which He had lent us during our whole lives, and, on the other hand, the little use, or, rather the misuse, which we have made of it? Is it then possible that we who are in the possession of so many precious gifts, are still so lukewarm, so lazy, and so indolent in the service of God.

Let us remind ourselves, my brethren, of all that God has done for us since we came into this world. How many have died in your midst without having received holy Baptism? How many others, after having committed a single mortal sin, have been cut off by death and cast into hell? And from how many bodily dangers hast he mercy of God spared us, while he preferred us to so many others, who in extraordinary ways lost their lives? How often has God, when we had the misfortune to sin grievously, pursued us with remorse of conscience, and good intentions? How many instructions, how many good examples were afforded us, to arouse us from our indifference for the salvation of our soul?

Yes, my brethren, He awaits us with open arms. He opens to us the wound of His divine Heart, to hide us therein from the severity of His Father; He offers us all the merits of His death and Passion, in satisfaction for our sins. If our conversion is sincere, He takes it upon Himself to answer for us at the judgment seat of His Father, when we shall be called upon to give an account of our whole life. Happy is he who follows the voice of His God who calls him! Happy is he, my brethren, who has never forgotten that his life is short, and that he may die at any moment, whom the thought never leaves that he is destined after this life for a happy or unhappy eternity, for heaven or for hell.

Yes, my brethren, if we were only fortunate enough to ponder well what is before us after this life, which is so short, we should feel obliged to pass our lives in fear and trembling, working so as to accomplish the salvation of our souls. Happy is he, my brethren, who holds himself always in readiness! That is what I wish you all. Amen.


Friday, November 30, 2007

The Advent Season

Advent - its place in creation and in our daily lives as we begin reliving the life of Christ through the Ecclesiastical Year of the Church.

The Jews of old used to observe a number of feasts besides the Sabbath in commemoration of important events in their history (the festival of Easter in memory of the exit from Egypt; Pentecost, in memory of the giving of the law on Sinai; the feast of Tabernacles in memory of their journey through the desert, etc). The Church does much the same; she annually recalls events in Our Lord's life on earth, representing them as vividly as is possible after so long a lapse of time.

The Ecclesiastical Year is an annual commemoration and representation of the life of Christ, and of the time before and after His birth. They are composed of three great feasts: Christmas, when the birth of Christ is celebrated; Easter, the day of His resurrection; and Pentecost, when the coming of the Holy Spirit is commemorated. Each feast has a season of preparation preceding it as well as a subsequent commemoration.

Advent is the season of preparation before Christmas. In the subsequent period we have the feast of the Circumcision, the Epiphany, the Purification, and the Sundays after the Epiphany. This composes the Christmas Season, the first of three seasons commemorating Christ during our annual life as Catholics.

Because Catholicism is a direct lineage from the Jews, the Church commemorates important events in the history of the New Covenant - the Church - beginning with Christ's conception in the womb. The Church places these events before us in order that we may meditate upon them and imitate Our Lord's life. The 3 season cycle is repeated year after year until the end of our Christian lives to draw the soul in deeper intimacy with our Jesus.

In Advent we are called upon to anticipate with the patriarchs of the Old Testament, the coming of the long-expected Redeemer; at Christmas we rejoice with the shepherds at His birth. The four weeks of Advent represent the four thousand years during which the coming of the Messias was expected. The Immaculate Conception occurs most suitably in Advent, the eighth of December, for at the birth of Christ the Sun of justice rose upon the world, dispelling the darkness of sin and ignorance; Mary haralding the coming day of the Lord. The period after Christmas symbolizes the youth of Our Lord, and the time before His entry upon His public ministry - His hidden life at Nazareth.

The aspect of nature corresponds to the three principal festivals: In Advent, the nights are longer than the days, and the life of vegetation is at a standstill; so it was in the spiritual order before the coming of Christ. After Christmas the days begin to lengthen; just so the birth of Christ brought light to the world. At Easter nature awakens to new life and decks herself with verdure; Christ rises glorious from the dead. At Pentecost trees and meadows are in their full beauty of leaf and blossom; with the coming of the Holy Spirit a fresh area commences for mankind, and fair flowers of holiness are brought forth.

And so begins the Ecclesiastical Year - the Catholic representation of the life of Christ for God's greater glory and our spiritual union with our Divine Savior.

Source: Rev. Spirago, Francis; Rev. Clarke, Richard F. S.J. 1899. The Catechism Explained - An Exhaustive Exposition of the Catholic Religion; p. 359-361.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Article: Pope to purge the Vatican of modern music

Glory and Praise Songbook - your days are numbered.

Excerpt from Article:

Mgr Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which trains church musicians, said that there had been serious "deviations" in the performance of sacred music.

"How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?" he said.

He added that a pontifical office could correct the abuses, and would be "opportune". He said: "Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality."

Mgr Grau said that Gregorian chant was the "cardinal point" of liturgical music and that traditional music "should become again the living soul of the assembly".

In a related article:

"In the Roman Catholic Church, we have the added horror of "folk Masses" . . . and now the same music is driving a new generation of young people away from church."
The question that should be asked of modernist Church musicians is how does modern music conform with the priorities prescribed in 'Chapter VI - Sacred Music' of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on December 4, 1963?:

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Traditional Latin Mass of Thanksgiving (English Translation)

The Four Ends of Sacrifice:
Adoration, Thanksgiving, Reparation, Prayer

Thanksgiving: To give thanks to God for His benefits. "Put in one heap," says St. Leonard of Port Maurice, "all the gifts, all the graces, you have received from God - so many gifts of nature and of grace; yes, the very life, too, of His Son Jesus, and His death suffered for us, which in themselves immeasurably swell the great debt which we owe to God - and how shall we ever be able sufficiently to thank Him? The law of gratitude is observed by the very beasts, who sometimes change their cruel anger into gentle homage to their benefactors; and how much more, of course, has this law not to be observed by man, gifted as he is with reason and so nobly endowed by the divine liberality!

"Now, the way most fully to thank our good God - our supreme benefactor - is taught us by the Royal Psalmist, holy David, who , led by divine inspirations to speak with mysterious references to this divine sacrifice, indicates that nothing can sufficiently render the thanks which are due to God, excepting holy Mass: 'I will uplift on high the chalice of the Lord,' that is, I will offer a sacrifice most grateful to Him, and with this alone I shall satisfy the debt of so many and such signal benefits . . . He Himself also gave us the example when, in the last supper, before the act of consecration in that first Mass, He raised His eyes to heaven, and gave thanks to His heavenly Father: 'Elevatis oculis in coelum, Tibi gratias agens fregit'. " (1)


Prayer

God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Thy most gracious Majesty for the gifts Thou has bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Thy clemency, that as Thou grant the petitions of them that ask Thee, thou will never forsake them, but will prepare the reward to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Secret

Receive as a sweet savor, O Lord, this sacrifice of thanksgiving: do Thou in the future shield from all harm those whom until now Thou has been pleased to hear and to save: and grant that they may serve Thee better and love Thee more. Through our Lord.

Post Communion

O God, Who suffers no one that hopes in Thee to be over afflicted, but listens kindly to their prayers: we thank Thee for having heard our prayers and granted our desires, and devoutly entreat Thee that what we have received may make us worthy to be delivered from all adversities. Through our Lord.


(1) Lassance, Rev. F. X.; 1945; The New Roman Missal; p. 18-19.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas Scrooges

Spirit Daily posted an article about The Liberty Counsel who came up with a list of retailers who avoid using the word Christmas in their advertising.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sermon on Purgatory by Saint John Vianney


St. John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)
Patron Saint of Parish Priests
The Incorrupt Body of the Cure' of Ars Situated in the Basilica at Ars, France

I come on behalf of God. Why am I up in the pulpit today, my dear brethren? What am I going to say to you? Ah! I come on behalf of God Himself. I come on behalf of your poor parents, to awaken in you that love and gratitude which you owe them. I come to bring before your minds again all those kindnesses and all the love which they gave you while they were on earth. I come to tell you that they suffer in Purgatory, that they weep, and that they demand with urgent cries the help of your prayers and your good works. I seem to hear them crying from the depths of those fires which devour them: "Tell our loved ones, tell our children, tell all our relatives how great the evils are which they are making us suffer. We throw ourselves at their feet to implore the help of their prayers. Ah! Tell them that since we have been separated from them, we have been here burning in the flames!

Oh! Who would be so indifferent to such sufferings as we are enduring?" Do you see, my dear brethren, do you hear that tender mother, that devoted father, and all those relatives who helped and tended you? "My friends," they cry, "free us from these pains; you can do it." Consider then, my dear brethren: (a) the magnitude of these sufferings which the souls in Purgatory endure; and (b) the means which we have of mitigating them: our prayers, our good works, and, above all, the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

I do not wish to stop at this stage to prove to you the existence of Purgatory. That would be a waste of time. No one among you has the slightest doubt on that score. The Church, to which Jesus Christ promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and which, consequently, can neither be mistaken herself nor mislead us, teaches us about Purgatory in a very clear and positive manner. It is certain, very certain, that there is a place where the souls of the just complete the expiation of their sins before being admitted to the glory of Paradise, which is assured them. Yes, my dear brethren, and it is an article of faith: if we have not done penance proportionate to the greatness and enormity of our sins, even though forgiven in the holy tribunal of Penance, we shall be compelled to expiate them.

In Holy Scripture there are many texts which show clearly that although our sins may be forgiven, God still imposes on us the obligation to suffer in this world by temporal hardships or in the next by the flames of Purgatory. Look at what happened to Adam. Because he was repentant after committing his sin, God assured him that He had pardoned him, and yet He condemned him to do penance for nine hundred years, penance which surpasses anything that we can imagine. See again: David ordered, contrary to the wish of God, the census of his subjects, but, stricken with remorse of conscience, he saw his sin and, throwing himself upon the ground, begged the Lord to pardon him. God, touched by his repentance, forgave him indeed. But despite that, He sent Gad to tell David that he would have to choose between three scourges which He had prepared for him as punishment for his iniquity: the plague, war, or famine. David said: "It is better that I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men." He chose the pestilence, which lasted three days and killed seventy thousand of his subjects. If the Lord had not stayed the hand of the Angel, which was stretched out over the city, all Jerusalem would have been depopulated! David, seeing so many evils caused by his sin, begged the grace of God to punish him alone and to spare his people, who were innocent. See, too, the penance of Saint Mary Magdalen; perhaps that will soften your hearts a little. Alas, my dear brethren, what, then, will be the number of years which we shall have to suffer in Purgatory, we who have so many sins, we who, under the pretext that we have confessed them, do no penance and shed no tears?

How many years of suffering shall we have to expect in the next life? But how, when the holy Fathers tell us that the torments they suffer in this place seem to equal the sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured during His sorrowful Passion, shall I paint for you a heart-rending picture of the sufferings which these poor souls endure? However, it is certain that if the slightest torment that our Lord suffered had been shared by all mankind, they would all be dead through the violence of such suffering. The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell; the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting.

Oh! Should God in His great mercy permit one of these poor souls, who bum in these flames, to appear here in my place, all surrounded by the fires which consume him, and should he give you himself a recital of the sufferings he is enduring, this church, my dear brethren, would reverberate with his cries and his sobs, and perhaps that might finally soften your hearts. Oh! How we suffer! they cry to us. Oh! You, our brethren, deliver us from these torments! You can do it! Ah, if you only experienced the sorrow of being separated from God! ... Cruel separation! To burn in the fire kindled by the justice of God! ... To suffer sorrows incomprehensible to mortal man! . . . To be devoured by regret, knowing that we could so easily have avoided such sorrows! ... Oh! My children, cry the fathers and the mothers, can you thus so readily abandon us, we who loved you so much? Can you then sleep in comfort and leave us stretched upon a bed of fire. Will you have the courage to give yourselves up to pleasure and joy while we are here suffering and weeping night and day? You have our wealth, our homes, you are enjoying the fruit of our labors, and you abandon us here in this place of torments, where we are suffering such frightful evils for so many years! ... And not a single almsgiving, not a single Mass which would help to deliver us! ... You can relieve our sufferings, you can open our prison, and you abandon us. Oh! How cruel these sufferings are!

Yes, my dear brethren, people judge very differently, when in the flames of Purgatory, of all those light faults, if indeed it is possible to call anything light which makes us endure such rigorous sorrows. What woe would there be to man, the Royal Prophet cries, even the most just of men, if God were to judge him without mercy. If God has found spots in the sun and malice in the angels, what, then, is this sinful man? And for us, who have committed so many mortal sins and who have done practically nothing to satisfy the justice of God, how many years of Purgatory! "My God," said Saint Teresa, "what soul will be pure enough to enter into heaven without passing through the vengeful flames?" In her last illness, she cried suddenly: "O justice and power of my God, how terrible you are!" During her agony, God allowed her to see His holiness as the angels and the saints see Him in heaven, which caused her so much dread that her sisters, seeing her trembling and extraordinarily agitated, spoke to her, weeping: "Ah! Mother, what has happened to you; surely you do not fear death after so many penances and such abundant and bitter tears?" "No, my children," Saint Teresa replied, "I do not fear death; on the contrary, I desire it so that I may be united forever with my God." "Is it your sins, then, which terrify you, after so much mortification? " "Yes, my children," she told them. "I do fear my sins, but I fear still another thing even more." "Is it the judgment then?" "Yes, I tremble at the formidable account that it will be necessary to render to God, Who, in that moment, will be without mercy, but there is still something else of which the very thought alone makes me die with terror." The poor sisters were deeply distressed. "Alas! Can it be Hell then?" "No," she told them. "Hell, thank God, is not for me. Oh! My sisters, it is the holiness of God. My God, have pity upon me! My life must be brought face to face with that of Jesus Christ Himself! Woe to me if I have the least blemish or stain! Woe to me if I am even in the very shadow of sin!" "Alas!" cried these poor sisters. "What will our deaths be like!" What will ours be like, then, my dear brethren, we who, perhaps in all our penances and our good works, have never yet satisfied for one single sin forgiven in the tribunal of Penance?

Ah! What years and centuries of torment to punish us! ... How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us! No, my dear brethren, we would never have the courage to commit the least sin if we could understand how much it outrages God and how greatly it deserves to be rigorously punished, even in this world. God is just, my dear brethren, in all that He does. When He recompenses us for the smallest good action, He does so over and above all that we could desire. A good thought, a good desire, that is to say, the desire to do some good work even when we are not able to do it, He never leaves without a reward. But also, when it is a matter of punishing us, it is done with rigor, and though we should have only a light fault, we shall be sent into Purgatory. This is true, for we see it in the lives of the saints that many of them did not go to Heaven without having first passed through the flames of Purgatory.

Saint Peter Damien tells that his sister remained several years in Purgatory because she had listened to an evil song with some little pleasure. It is told that two religious promised each other that the first to die would come to tell the survivor in what state he was. God permitted the one who died first to appear to his friend. He told him that he was remaining fifteen years in Purgatory for having liked to have his own way too much. And as his friend was complimenting him on remaining there for so short a time, the dead man replied: "I would have much preferred to be flayed alive for ten thousand years continuously, for that suffering could not even be compared with what I am suffering in the flames." A priest told one of his friends that God had condemned him to remain in Purgatory for several months for having held back the execution of a will designed for the doing of good works. Alas, my dear brethren, how many among those who hear me have a similar fault with which to reproach themselves?

How many are there, perhaps, who during the course of eight or ten years have received from their parents or their friends the work of having Masses said and alms given and have allowed the whole thing to slide! How many are there who, for fear of finding that certain good works should be done, have not wanted to go to the trouble of looking at the will that their parents or their friends have made in their favor? Alas, these poor souls are still detained in the flames because no one has desired to fulfill their last wishes! Poor fathers and mothers, you are being sacrificed for the happiness of your children and your heirs! You perhaps have neglected your own salvation to augment their fortune. You are being cheated of the good works which you left behind in your wills! ... Poor parents! How blind you were to forget yourselves! ... You will tell me, perhaps: "Our parents lived good lives; they were very good people." Ah! They needed little to go into these flames!

See what Albert the Great, a man whose virtues shone in such an extraordinary way, said on this matter. He revealed one day to one of his friends that God had taken him into Purgatory for having entertained a slightly self-satisfied thought about his own knowledge. The most astonishing thing was that there were actually saints there, even ones who were beatified, who were passing through Purgatory. Saint Severinus, Archbishop of Cologne, appeared to one of his friends a long time after his death and told him that he had been in Purgatory for having deferred to the evening the prayers he should have said in the morning. Oh! What years of Purgatory will there be for those Christians who have no difficulty at all in deferring their prayers to another time on the excuse of having to do some pressing work! If we really desired the happiness of possessing God, we should avoid the little faults as well as the big ones, since separation from God is so frightful a torment to all these poor souls!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Daily November Devotion for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Daily Prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Prayer for Sunday

O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the garden, deliver the Souls in Purgatory and especially that soul amongst them all which is most destitute of spiritual aid; and vouchsafe to bring it to thy glory, there to praise and bless thee forever. Amen.

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Monday


O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son Jesus shed in his cruel scourging, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and especially that soul amongst them all, which is nearest to its entrance into thy glory; so it may forthwith begin to praise and bless thee forever. Amen

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Tuesday

O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son Jesus shed in his bitter crowning with thorns, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and in particular that one amongst them all, which would be the last to depart out of those pains, that it may come to praise thee in thy glory and bless thee forever. Amen.

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Wednesday

O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the streets of Jerusalem, when he carried the Cross upon his sacred shoulders, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and especially that soul which is richest in merits before thee, so that it may magnify thee and bless thee forever. Amen

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Thursday

O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son, which he gave with his own hands upon the eve of his passion to his beloved Apostles, and which he left to his whole Church to be a perpetual sacrifice, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and especially that one which was the most devoted to this mystery of infinite love, that it may ever praise thee in thy love, in eternal glory. Amen.

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Friday

O Lord God Almighty, I pray thee, by the Precious Blood which thy Divine Son Jesus, shed on this day upon the wood of the Cross, especially from his most sacred hands and feet, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and in particular that soul for which I am most bound to pray; that no neglect of mine may hinder it from praising thee in thy glory and blessing thee forever. Amen.

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer for Saturday


O Lord God Almighty, I beseech thee by The Precious Blood which gushed forth from the side of thy Divine Son Jesus, in the sight and to the extreme pain of His most Holy Mother, deliver the Souls in Purgatory, and especially that one which was the most devoted to her; that it may soon attain unto thy glory, There to praise thee, world without end. Amen.

Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

On Every Day of the Novena

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Eternal Rest, etc.

St. Gertrude's Prayer for the Holy Souls

Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great that the following prayer would release 1000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said:

'Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory. Amen.'

Fr. John Hardon explains the devotion to the Poor Souls.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Spanish Colonial Missions


Mission San Xavier del Bac

The Church's role in mission life and in the settlement of New Spain has been under fire by revisionist historians, even including authors of children's coloring books. By presenting a bias opinion and a disingenuous portrayal of the Franciscan missionaries, these revisionists are swinging wildly at the Church. However, they simply cannot land any punches against the truth. Let us allow the facts to speak for themselves.

The Spanish Missions have been revered with pride throughout the American Southwest. Missionary priests like Father Eusebio Francisco Kino ("The Padre on Horseback"), Blessed Junipero Serra, Fray Francisco Hermengildo Garces, Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain, Juan Bautista Llorenz and many others left the safety of their homes, mostly in Spain, and expended their lives in the laborious establishment of these treasures throughout the area. Some met their fate by violent means. These friars not only brought the light of Christ to the New World but also, on the natural level, an improved way of life to the Native Americans composed of both New and Old World elements.

In California, a total of 146 Friars Minor, all of whom were ordained as priests served in California between 1769–1845. The Franciscans introduced agriculture to the Indians. The principal products of the field were wheat, barley, corn, beans, and peas. Orange and olive trees were planted and vines were cultivated. Water was brought from the mountain creeks to irrigate the fields and for domestic use. Nearly half of the missionaries died at their posts - two as martyrs: Father Luis Jayme and Father Andres Quintana.

The brutal death of Father Luis Jayme by the hands of angry natives at Mission San Diego de Alcala, November 4, 1775

In Arizona, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, (founder of
The San Xavier del Bac Mission - affectionately known as "The White Dove of the Desert" and "The Sistine Chapel of the New World", pictured at top) was not only the first to prove that Baja California was a peninsula, but was noted for the good relations he established with the indigenous peoples with whom he worked. He treated the Pimas with respect and learned their language. By helping the various Piman groups to come together to resist the fierce Apache tribes, Kino brought peace and security to the PimerĂ­a. In turn, the Pimas and other tribal groups affectionately regarded Kino as a leader and advocate. When a tragic misunderstanding resulted in the Pima Revolt of 1695, it was Kino who brought an end to hostilities and reestablished peace.

One fact that is widely known about Kino is that he fought hard for the Sonoran Indians, opposing the hard labor in silver mines that the Spaniards had imposed on them. Today, if you visit his shrine in Magdalena, Sonora, you can sense the devotion people still offer to Father Kino - the hero Padre of the Pimeria Alta. After Father Kino died in 1711 they built a statue of him and he was called Father of Arizona. Then, in recognition of his importance, the state of Arizona honored his memory in 1965 by placing his statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol Building as representative of the state. He has been honored both in Mexico and the United States, with various towns, streets, monuments, and geographic features named after him. There's even a cooking recipe for special occasions to honor his memory.

By the end of his missionary career he had established 27 missions and visitas (country chapels) and opened the overland route to California. He drew the first accurate maps of Primeria Alta, the Gulf of California, and Baja California.Through his contribution of new crops, especially wheat, and domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, Fr. Kino set up the foundation for modern agriculture and livestock raising. He also promoted apprenticeships of artisans and similar trades. His quest for a better life for the native peoples of New Spain inspired dozens of expeditions across the deserts.

Another legacy of Father Kino, as recorded in historical archives from the National Park Service, reveals an independent interest by the Indians to continue the Catholic Faith even after the Friars withdrew. At Tumacacori Mission, near Nogales, Arizona,
while the bell tower was still under construction, one of Father Kino's successors, Father Liberos, was sent back to Spain in 1828 after Mexico gained her independence. Tumacacori never again had a resident priest. Nevertheless, the faith to the remaining Indians was important enough that the Pimas continued to live there and worked to complete the bell tower on their own.

Mission San Jose de Tumacacori

Unfortunately, there are many secular sources bashing the Spanish Missionaries with hit and run smears against them. The false claim is that the Church, conspiring with the Spanish Government, desired political power and tortured, enslaved, subjected, and pacified the aboriginal Indians to achieve their 'domineering, worldly ambitions'. This is false. Indians were placed under civil jurisdiction not church authority. Nevertheless the Church today is falsely blamed for the mistreatment of Indians by civil authorities.

One source, a Dover Coloring Book entitled California Missions Coloring Book (1992) by David Rickman, is the most startling. In its introduction Rickman attempts to brainwash all of its young readers before the eager child takes his crayons to several pages of illustrated Indians being hunted down, women chained to the floor, and severely punished. All under the guise of children's nonfiction literature. The coloring book either sloppily or maliciously lumps the Spaniard Military and the Missionary Friars together. History proves this false. The biased, distorted introduction tells children: "Yet the question that still remains to be answered, is: what good did [the Franciscan friars] do?" and goes into a scathing attack against the Church when in fact, Father Junipero Serra pressed for a system of law to protect California's Native Americans against the abuses of Spanish soldiers. Why, after 300 years since the founding of the missions, would secularists begin banging the war drums and fanning the flames of intolerance and hatred against Catholicism? Is this just yet another super-conspiracy from the ancient past like the DaVinci Crock or are anti-Catholics really this full of hate? Why does the world continually produce attacks against the Faith? The answer is spiritual.

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

The purpose of such movements are not to unveil injustices of centuries past that must be righted - the true target is the Divine Truths. Revisionists believe that by conjuring false, or at least greatly exaggerated, claims against the Church 300 years later, their claims will go unchecked and fool the vast majority of the naive and gullible. They are guilty of the very thing they accuse the Church of. By forcefully lying to their readers about the Spanish Missions to enhance their anti-Catholic agenda, they are only dishonoring themselves and the truth. Their intent is not to correct a 'wrong' from the ancient past, their ultimate target is the Faith Itself which, to their dismay, is still alive despite all the world's failed attempts to crush It.

The case for canonizing the Spanish Franciscan missionary priest, Blessed Junipero Serra is the target today. Headlines in the popular press are rashly asking the question "Saint or Sinner?" Instead of slandering a 300 year old Catholic historical figure, those so willing to tie a noose around the past should be more thorough in their study of history. A brief look at the accounts of Junipero Serra's life reveal his virtue.


After entering the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, Miguel Jose Serra took a new first name, Junipero, that of St. Francis' beloved original companion friar. Blessed Junipero Serra arrived in California in 1769 as a leader of what was called the Sacred Expedition. He founded California's nine first missions and presided over the mission system. Dr. David Hornbeck, professor of historical geography at California State University, Northridge said this of Fr. Serra's accomplishments:

"I look at him more as a leader in a sense of his extraordinary administrative ability, and his ability to coordinate the settlement of a whole new frontier. He did it all by himself... If he'd done that for Kentucky, if Father Serra had been Daniel Boone or any one of the sort of folk heroes that we have, well, their feats are exaggerated way beyond what they actually did. Yet, we have somebody here who took a whole brand new frontier, didn't know anything about it, and in four years had taken and converted it to a functioning, organized frontier." (1)

By completely ignoring his accomplishments (even by secular standards) of introducing agriculture and irrigation systems, pressing for a system of law to protect California's Native Americans against the abuses of Spanish soldiers, and creating a network of roads - all worthy accomplishments - many secularists are massing opposition to his canonization. Their ultimate aim is for non-Catholics to cast doubt on the Church Itself.

However, not all in the secular field agree that Fr. Serra was the tyrant the popular media accuse him of being. Dr. Iris Engstrand, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of San Diego says:

"We know Father Serra's life from the time he was born, where he was trained, what he thought and what he did. He wasn't out there saying, 'Wow, look at all these Indians. Let's whip them into shape.' He was physically there, he worked hard, worked 18 hours a day. He was much nicer to the Indians, really, than even to the governors. He didn't get along too well with some of the military people, you know. His attitude was, 'Stay away from the Indians.' I think you really come up with a benevolent, hard-working person who was strict in a lot of his doctrinal leanings and things like that, but not a person who was enslaving Indians, or beating them, ever."
. . ". . . He was a very caring person and forgiving. Even after the burning of the mission in San Deigo, he did not want those Indians punished. He wanted to be sure that they were treated fairly. . . " (1)

Dr. Michael Mathes, Professor of history at the University of San Francisco says,

"criticism [by the Spanish government] of Serra revolves around the fact that he was too much involved in the care and treatment of the Indians, that he would not allow soldiers to mingle with the Indians. He didn't want these people (the Indians) to be tainted with any possible immoral activities that the soldiers might be involved with. . . . These were the complaints of the government, of the civil governors: that Serra was such a fanatical missionary that he really didn't want to cooperate with the civilian government, that his first concern was the taking care of his mission. Criticism of Serra is really a boomerang against anybody that would say Serra was a 'bad person ,' because the criticism of him supports the theory that he was a dedicated missionary, He may not have been much of a diplomat or civil servant, but he was one fine missionary." (1)

In 1773, difficulties with Pedro Fages, the military commander, compelled Father Serra to travel to Mexico City to argue before Viceroy Antonio Maria de Bucareli y Ursua for the removal of Fages as the Governor of California Nueva. Those difficulties involved his outspoken opposition to the cruelty of the Spaniard military towards the California Indians whom Junipero was Father for.

Dr. Gloria Miranda, an historian who is associate professor and chair of the Chicano Studies Department at Los Angeles Valley College and who is working on a book about the pioneering family during Father Serra's time says:

"He clearly saw the need for stability on the frontier. He was also very zealous in his protection of the tribes that he was working with. Often some of the soldiers who came north were not the best role models to imitate.
. . He is as much a pioneer of the West as the pioneers we cherish in U. S. history. Not only because he introduced a faith -- he was a colonizer, an explorer, a man of great determination. Not that many people come around in history.
. . His age is much more amazing. And his illness, his physical limitations. He was a very humble man, too. With his credentials, he could have had a very nice cloistered life, but he chose a life of hardship, which is very much apostolic, I think." (1)

Finally, Fr. Francis F. Guest, O. F.M., director of the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library notes that:

"He was a man who was not really interested in fame or in honor, or in being held in high regard by the government or by the Viceroys, or by anyone. He was simply interested in doing his spiritual work and if somebody else got the credit for it, he was not concerned one way or the other.
. . To me, this was an act of extraordinary virtue, extraordinary generosity. It might even be called magnanimity. He was very big-hearted in his love for the Indians, in his love for his work and his dedication to his work. He had very pure intentions. I think that this was an act of virtue on his part, which would merit him very high praise from historians who studied his life from this viewpoint." (1)


Mission Santa Barbara
When Interstate 280 was built in stages from Daly City to San Jose in the 1960's, it was named the Junipero Serra Freeway. There is also a statue of Serra along the freeway in Hillsborough, California. The statue stands on a hill on the northbound side and has a large pointing finger facing the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific. Both Spain and the United States have honored Serra with postage stamps and a statue of Friar Junipero Serra represents the state of California in the National Statuary Hall alongside Father Eusebio Kino.

The Sacred Garden at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Modernists hate when a Catholic is canonized a Saint. When the Church canonizes a Saint, heaven rejoices, the Church ignites veneration to a heavenly companion, and the devil cowers. When the Cause for the Canonization of Saints opened the case to consider Pope Pius XII, the secularists went mad. When the case was opened for Mother Teresa of Calcutta's beatification, the secularists went mad. Even when Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, yep, you guessed it, the secularists went mad. In this age, however, the worldly throw their temper tantrums disguised as 'intellectual reflection'. This is the new form of persecution against the Catholic Church. Secularists know too well that we're up on our Church history with our Martyrology so they need a new approach.

Like a desperate offensive line in the last seconds of a game, the
secularists of the new age must try something nobody has seen before to achieve their end result: persecution. To achieve this result they need a play that their anti-Catholic historical heroes never devised. For example, when the secular Mexican government took over the missions after the Mexican Congress passed An Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California on August 17, 1833, over time, the civil administration resulted in a deterioration of lifestyle and buildings. On March 18, 1865 Abraham Lincoln restored the Missions to the Catholic Church. What secularists in the Mexican Government tried didn't work as masses are still said, sometimes daily, at the Spanish Missions. The persecutions of Diocletian, Galerius, or Decius are too typical and, to the modern secular elitist, too barbaric, too messy. So in order to fool the world and appear as civilized, rational, and just opponents of the Church, they must adopt the strategy that makes them look like sophisticated philosophical heroes, ridding the world of 'ignorance' and 'intolerance' - what rash secularists wrongfully see in the Catholic expression and in the Church's history.

Whether the modern persecution of Christ is in the form of doctored history, far-fetched novels, cinematic screenplays, or children's coloring books, the truth ultimately prevails. In this case the facts of the Spanish Missionaries speak for themselves. Opinion against the Church, with distortions and lies leveled against Her is simply not enough to destroy Christ who is Her Head.


Sources:
1. http://www.catholic-church.org/serra-beth/serra-4.htm

2. http://www.sanxaviermission.org/History.html
3. http://www.arizona-leisure.com/san-xavier-del-bac-mission.html
4. http://parentseyes.arizona.edu/missions/San_Xavier.html