Reflection for the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity – Cycle C.

Image result for Most Holy Trinity painting

 

 

Each year on the Sunday following Pentecost, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, our belief that God is One and yet Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, equal in majesty and glory, One in Three and Three in One. This is something so wonderful and sublime that the human mind cannot pretend to comprehend the full meaning of the mystery, which nonetheless is the cause of our joy and our hope as followers of Jesus Christ.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest minds that ever existed in the Church, who died in 430 AD, was trying to comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in which he firmly believed and placed his trust, yet realized it was no easy thing to full grasp. In his contemplation Augustine decided to take a walk along the seashore. There he saw a child playing in the sand near the shoreline. Having dug a hole in the sand, the child was bringing over handfuls of water from the nearby ocean to fill the hole.

At one point Augustine asked what the child was trying to do. The youngster replied that he wanted to empty the entire ocean into the hole he had dug in the sand. “But that is impossible,” Augustine observed, “Can’t you see the ocean is infinitely greater than the hole you have dug in the sand?” At that moment Augustine realized a profound truth: it is equally impossible to fill the human mind with the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

As Saint Augustine realized, the human mind is too limited to take in all the greatness of the Trinity, he also admitted that only God can fill and satisfy the human heart. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord,” Augustine so wisely expressed it. In other words, there are many things about God that we cannot fully understand with the mind, but that we can with the heart.

God is so much and is in fact everything: Creator, Father, Sustainer, Son, Redeemer, Infinite Wisdom, Holy Spirit, Sanctifier, Comforter, Love, Advocate, who cannot but act for the welfare of the human family, drawing all things and persons toward the knowledge and love of God.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly expresses it: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (number 234).

The Holy Trinity is above all a mystery of love and the complete expression of the love of God, which in turn transforms those who come to God, who live and die in God.

Furthermore, the Holy Trinity is a mystery of unity, being indivisible, meaning the Trinity cannot be divided, yet at the same time composed of three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we said at the beginning. In other words, “We do not confess three gods, but one God in three persons” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 253).

This unity in diversity of the Holy and Blessed Trinity is all-inclusive, meaning each and every human being is welcome to partake of the life of the Trinity. The Holy Trinity in turn gives true and lasting life to others whose lives are touched by God. That is the heart of our life in the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, the life we live becomes a source of encouragement and redemption for others hungering for rest in the One God who is our origin and goal.

We are each being invited to engage more than the mind as we ponder the mystery of our living under the watchful care of the Holy Trinity. We are invited to open “the ears of our heart,” as Saint Benedict so beautifully expressed it, in order to comprehend, to the degree that we can, the greatness of our God.

While living this life, we will never understand fully the God who saves us, but that is no reason to give up in our search for God, and our ardent pursuit of God’s will for our life, as well as our proclamation of the Gospel by the lives we live.

God is Love, Scripture tells us, and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in the one who loves. Let us put God in the center of our existence and go to God frequently in prayer, in praise, as well as adoration, petition, and thanksgiving. It is always a righteous thing to do and in fact gives nourishment and encouragement for our daily existence. We form a family with God. As the Trinity dwells in unity, we are called to do likewise. May God be found in the heart of our communities, our families and our relationships.

The Holy Eucharist (Mass) we celebrate is the supreme act of God’s bestowing life upon human beings. We are offered the possibility of partaking in divine life when we receive the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord. It is mystery to see before us bread and wine and yet believe that contained therein is the very Body and Blood of the Redeemer of all people, our God who loves us without measure.

May we never cease to thank our God for the gifts we have received and may we remain today and always united to the Holy Trinity, our One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB

 

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Posted in Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Biblical Reflection | 1 Comment

How Long before the West is an Islamic Caliphate?

The following disturbing account from an email was first published by the blog Les Femmes – The Truth:

NURSE IN GERMANY SENDS A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD

as of June 10, 2019

“Yesterday, at the hospital, we had a meeting about how the situation here and at the other Munich hospitals is unsustainable. Clinics cannot handle the number of migrant medical emergencies, so they are starting to send everything to the main hospitals.

“Many Muslims are refusing treatment by female staff and we women are now refusing to go among those migrants!

“Relations between the staff and migrants are going from bad to worse. Since last weekend, migrants going to the hospitals must be accompanied by police with K-9units.

“Many migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB and many exotic diseases that we in Europe do not know how to treat.

“If they receive a prescription to the pharmacy, they suddenly learn they have to pay cash. This leads to unbelievable outbursts, especially when it is about drugs for the children. They abandon the children with pharmacy staff with the words: So, cure them here yourselves!

“So the police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also the large pharmacies.

“We ask openly where are all those who welcomed the migrants in front of TV cameras with signs at train stations? Yes, for now, the border has been closed, but a million of them are already here and we will definitely not be able to get rid of them.

“Until now, the number of unemployed in Germany was 2.2 million. Now it will be at least 3.5 million. Most of these people are completely unemployable. Only a small minimum of them have any education. What is more, their women usually do not work at all. I estimate that one in ten is pregnant. Hundreds of thousands of them have brought along infants and little kids under six, many emaciated and very needy. If this continues and Germany re-opens its borders, I am going home to the Czech Republic. Nobody can keep me here in this situation, not even for double the salary back home. I came to Germany to work, not to Africa or the Middle East!

Even the professor who heads our department told us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who has cleaned every day for years for 800 Euro’s and then meets crowds of young men in the hallways who just wait with their hands outstretched, wanting everything for free, and when they don’t get it they throw a fit.

“I really don’t need this! But I am afraid that if I return home, at some point it will be the same in the Czech Republic. If the Germans, with their systems, cannot handle this, then, guaranteed, back home will be total chaos…..

“You – who have not come in contact with these people have absolutely no idea what kind of badly behaved desperados these people are, and how Muslims act superior to our staff, regarding their religious accommodation.

“For now, the local hospital staff have not come down with the diseases these people brought here, but with so many hundreds of patients every day of this is just a question of time. In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, who they’d dragged across half of Europe for three months. The child died two days later, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The pediatric physician had to undergo surgery and the two nurses are recovering in the ICU. Nobody has been punished.

“The local press is forbidden to write about it, so we can only inform you through email. What would have happened to a German if he had stabbed the doctor and nurses with a knife? Or if he had flung his own syphilis-infected urine into a nurses face and so threatened her with infection? At a minimum he would have gone straight to jail and later to court. With these people so far, nothing has happened.

“And so I ask: Where are all those greeters and receivers from the train stations? Sitting pretty at home, enjoying their uncomplicated, safe lives. If it were up to me, I would round up all those greeters and bring them here first to our hospitals emergency ward as attendants! Then in to one of the buildings housing the migrants, so they can really look after them there themselves, without armed police and police dogs, who, sadly today, are in every hospital here in Bavaria.”

Is this “situation” coming to your country?

IF YOU DO NOT TAKE AN INTEREST IN THE AFFAIRS OF YOUR GOVERNMENT, THEN YOU ARE DOOMED TO LIVE UNDER THE RULE OF FOOLS – PLATO

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Catholic psychologist denounces Vatican document on gender theory

From LifeSiteNews:

A Catholic psychologist has denounced the latest Vatican document on gender theory as containing “not one sentence of sound advice for parents who try to educate their children towards the virtues necessary for a Christian life.”

In a searing critique, Dr. Gerard J.M. van den Aarweg, a Dutch psychologist and psychoanalyst specializing in the treatment of persons with homosexual tendencies, condemned the recent Vatican document on gender theory, saying “the aggressive neo-pagan sexual ideology of the world has no wisdom we might share. The task of the Church is not dialoguing but teaching and correcting, there is a relentless spiritual war going on in the field of sexuality, marriage, and the family.”

The (non-magisterial) document, titled “‘Male and Female He Created Them’: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education,” was published by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education on June 10.

Addressed to Catholic schools and those involved in the formation of children and young people, the document has provoked admiration and consternation and drawn considerable attention in the Catholic and secular media.

Catholic media on the whole have shown a favorable response. The New York Times focused on the document’s rejection of the idea of gender fluidity. And “LGBT” activists criticized the text for its clear affirmation that human persons are either “male” or “female,” saying it keeps the Vatican “in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods.”

In the midst of these conflicting opinions, LifeSite spoke with Dr. van den Aarweg — author of “The Battle for Normality” (Ignatius press) and “Science says NO: The gay ‘marriage’ deception” — about his view on the document.

The Dutch psychologist did not mince his words.

Here below is our interview with Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg.

LifeSite: Dr. van den Aardweg, what are your general impressions of the Vatican’s new document on gender theory?

Dr. van den Aardweg: Basically, it is an ideological document. It is not specifically Catholic, in spite of some lip service. It essentially makes a plea for a kind of atheist-humanist/socialist sex education, presented as more or less Catholic. It gushes over the boons of a social model of sexual education monitored by “professional experts” on the basis of naively supposed ever-deepening insights into sexuality in the current human sciences. It represents the kind of illusionary and sentimental talk about education and “affectivity” characteristic of the immature and superficial humanistic psychology of the 1960s, but now proclaimed as ‘higher wisdom’ by a Vatican Congregation whose members run half a century behind the times. It is ‘dialogue’ and ‘listening’ and ‘openness’ all over again. But no listening to the divine teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality, marriage and the family (for these seem in need of ‘restructuring’). Teaching and preaching them to a pagan world is not, it seems, the way forward. The great dream is an “alliance” with the neo-paganism of the sexual, marriage, and family ideology of the UN and the anti-Christian EU countries.

“Listening.” Well, listening attentively to the document’s vague and ambiguous formulations and suggestions in order to discern what it drives at, one can discern its lead motive: revolutionary change.

What is your view on its analysis of gender theory?

The observations on gender theory are ambiguous and unclear, and that makes them suspect. At face value, some phrases seem correct and “orthodox,” such as the denials that sexual “identity is not a choice of the individual,” and platitudes such as “sexuality [a person’s sex] is a fundamental component of personhood” or “every cell in the body is male or female.” However, they are simultaneously undermined by statements such as (I abbreviate): “The approach to gender theory [is] the path of dialogue.” Why would that be so? No answer, because we are in the domain of ideology. What is there to dialogue about? We know the effects of dialoguing from the experiences with the Communists. The enemies of Christianity will dialogue with you in their way, on their terms. The outcome is none other than dialoguing with the devil. The aggressive neo-pagan sexual ideology of the world has no wisdom we might share. The task of the Church is not dialoguing but teaching and correcting, there is a relentless spiritual war going on in the field of sexuality, marriage, and the family.

Another example: “Human sciences … [present] other work … which tries a deeper understanding.” There follows a vague reference to works about the “sexual difference between men and women in a variety of cultures.” Here as everywhere in this document, only suggestions or insinuations are given, without a shadow of proof. So, which allegedly better “work” is meant here? I surmise the authors refer to the once-popular writings of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, the lesbian feminists who attempted to show the relativity of sex roles and functions in non-Western societies. But their contentions have long been refuted as being based on false, partly even fraudulent, evidence.

The relativization of the unpopular Biblical view of man-woman relationships and social “roles,” in apparent support of feminist (and gay?) indignation, also appears in the glib contention about “unjust discrimination,” which is “a sad fact of history” also “within the Church.” The Church would have violated the “equal dignity of men and women” in consequence of a “masculinist [sic] mentality veiled by religious motives.” If this is not a sneer at the Catholic teaching about man as the head and woman as the heart of the family, and the woman’s duty to obey her husband etc., what else is being suggested? Or, looked at from a different angle, who can believe the authors of this text are still capable of transmitting the unchangeable divine teachings of the Apostles, St. Augustine, and the Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI? Probably, these authors, blinded by the spirit of the times (Zeitgeist), do not even understand them anymore, nor do they seem to know and understand the correct anthropological and psychological insight of St. Edith Stein that “woman is by nature mother and the companion of the man.” For any Catholic who knows and understands this truth would have made it the cornerstone of a discourse on the equal value of man and woman.

Equally disquieting is the authors’ dubious appreciation of the natural family: “To qualify it [the family] with ideological concepts which are compelling at only one moment in history, and then decline … is a betrayal of its true significance.” Do the aforementioned apostolic teachings belong to the category of temporary historical “ideologies” about male and female? If not, why didn’t they recommend them at all; and what false ideological concepts have been attached to the family that are not essential? For example, has the traditional concept of the Christian family in the light of the present enlightened insights been narrowed by our cultural prejudices? In sum, give a clear, unambiguous definition of the natural and God-willed family and unambiguously reject the political definition of, among others, the Christian Democrats.

The document frequently cites Pope John Paul II. What do you think of its use of his writings?

Pope John Paul II is quoted but fairly hypocritically. His prestige is abused to create the impression of orthodoxy, a characteristic the writing as a whole has no right to claim. The authors have even the evil courage to recall the name of Don Bosco, whose teachings and efforts were diametrically opposed to theirs and were therefore truly exemplary.

Does the document presume that sex-education should always be made available in schools? Is the position the document takes in this regard consistent with the constant teaching of the Church?

Parental rights in education are professed with words, but the whole, and in essence, socialistic-bureaucratic organization to educate the “sexuality and affectivity” of children and youngsters about which these utopians are dreaming will no doubt soon squeeze the parents’ rights into extinction. The proposed educational “professionals” within and outside the school, with their “permanent education” coming from “universities” etc., with their close association with the secular organizations (“local, national and international”!), with their new “programmes, instruction materials, and reference books,” and paid by who else but the State, will guarantee politically-correct sex ed. It proposes an idealistic “educational alliancebetween family, school, and society”: come to Holland, Germany, or Great Britain and see how smoothly it functions… No one who objects, no school, no collective of Catholic parents, only a rare Catholic teacher, a loner, a few exceptional Catholic parents, who refuse to cooperate with these cheerful “programmes” that violate their pupils’ and children’s innocence. Indeed, as this Vatican document remarks, “the family is not left to face the challenges of educating the young on its own.” And the “authorization” of the parents is a good principle, but “to a certain degree.”

Do you have any other comments?

The conclusion of the document, though still evading honestly straightforward and unambiguous language, helps in grasping its real meaning and purposes. Consider these high-falutin’ declarations: “The (educational formators) have the mission to teach them [young people] sensitivity to different expressions of love, mutual concern and care, loving respect (sic) and a deeply meaningful communication”; “Train young people to be open and interested in the reality that surrounds them, capable of care and tenderness.” This has been precisely the sales pitch of the neo-pagan Sexual Reform Movement for at least a century. All kinds of sexual or “love” relationships fit into this ideal, unmarried as well as gay ones. There is nothing in the Vatican text about sexual sin, the fight for chastity, masturbation, unfaithfulness in marriage, unmarried cohabitation, chastity in marriage; not one sentence of sound advice for parents who try to educate their children towards the virtues necessary for a Christian life and against the pressure of the neo-pagan environment, school, and even church; nothing about contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Finally, the style of the piece is terrible: it is permeated by pompous and sentimental language, hypocritical unctuousness. The intellectual level is substandard. No concept that is used is defined, no statement proved or even supported by some argumentation; the references and remarks relative to anthropology and psychology (“the human sciences”) are misplaced or outright nonsensical, and yet they are solemnly presented as ‘superior wisdom.’

A Vatican congregation which dares to produce and issue such a document should seriously consider closing up shop.

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Pope Francis’ ‘flirt’ with heresy could provoke ‘schism’: Prominent German Catholic novelist

Maike Hickson at LifeSiteNews:

On April 30, 2019, 19 scholars and clergy published an Open Letter to Bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy and asking the bishops of the world to undertake a serious investigation of this charge for the good of the Church. In the following weeks, more people, among them more than 20 priests and some theologians and canon lawyers, added their signatures to this Open Letter so that the number of its signatories is now 92.

On May 13, Martin Mosebach also added his own signature to the Open Letter. Mosebach is a well-known German novelist and essayist who has received the highest national literary award in Germany, the Georg Büchner Prize which is being given by the German Academy for Language and Literature. Mosebach, who was born in 1951, also authored the book The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and its Enemy, in which he argues in favor of the Traditional Latin Mass. In the U.S., Mosebach is known for his essays published in First Things.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Mr. Mosebach explains why he signed the Open Letter to Bishops and says that the Church finds herself in an “unprecedented” situation which therefore is “lacking instruments” of how to deal with it. He hopes for a “broad debate about the question of what is Catholic and what is not. The result could be dramatic – a schism – because the progressivist party is very strong, but the small traditionalist party cannot, according to its own principles, make any concessions anymore.”

Mr. Mosebach hopes for more bishops to respond to the current crisis in the Church, adding that “I simply do not want to believe that in the whole Orbis Catholicus, there should be only these four [dubia] cardinals and the three Kazakh bishops who got worried about the Roman zig-zag course.”

Image
Martin Mosebach

He sees that under Pope Francis, the Catholic Church “has assumed the character of the western Liberalism of North American Democrats and of the German Green Party,” thus presenting herself as being “anti-sacramental, anti-hierarchical, committed to the ultra-liberal claims of societal diversity.”

Describing Pope Francis’s style of government as “paradoxical,” Martin Mosebach highlights that Francis “is a ruler who demands submission and blind obedience in order to destroy, especially by this means, the spiritual foundation of all obedience.” In the German author’s eyes, Francis uses “the papal authority in order to undermine the papal Magisterium. It becomes more and more clear that he understands himself as an agent of a revolution from the top down.”

***

Full LifeSiteNews interview with Martin Mosebach:

LifeSite: What were your reasons for signing the Open Letter to the Bishops, even though there were already many commentaries which dismissed this letter as “extreme”? Which aspect of the Open Letter most appealed to you?

Martin Mosebach: Indeed, the Open Letter to the Bishops is extreme – a witness of a historical moment which is unprecedented in the Church’s history. It describes the situation that was not foreseen and for which, therefore, also the instruments are lacking. It is true that one should, in principle, be very careful before calling someone a heretic. The Catholic Church is old and she justly makes the claim to universality, and this means that within her midst, there have been very different, in part also contradictory, movements. But the Magisterium of the Popes always prevailed, after a shorter or longer period of dispute, by turning to Tradition and then making a decision in its spirit, thus ending the dispute.

And now for the first time, we are dealing with a Pope who, far from ending a theological dispute, even furthers it and removes himself from his duty to settle it. The means which he uses seem to me to be especially fatal: he flirts with heresy; shows, with the wink of an eye, some sympathies for it, then expresses himself continuously in such an ambiguous manner that the “heretics” may thereby feel reinforced, while the papal “loyalists” still hope to be able to prove the existence of an orthodox kernel in his statements.

It seems to me that it is now necessary to open up a broad debate about the question of what is Catholic and what is not. The result could be dramatic – a schism – because the progressivist party is very strong, but the small traditionalist party cannot, according to its own principles, make any concessions anymore.

LifeSite: In the face of the fact that bishops most probably would not respond to this Open Letter with an investigation of the possible heresies of the Pope, what can be accomplished with such a letter?

Mosebach: It moves me that here, finally, all prelates of the Church are being addressed. They take part in the Magisterium and thus have to make a statement when it is about the essence of Christian doctrine. They all have to present their questions to the Pope – when they are in doubt as to whether they have understood him correctly – and not only the four courageous cardinals with their “dubia.” I simply do not want to believe that in the whole Orbis Catholicus, there should be only these four cardinals and the three Kazakh bishops who got worried about the Roman zig-zag course.

Let us remember: the bishopric is the highest office that a Catholic can reach, one is bishop by divine law, called by Jesus Christ – what can one still fear then? By which disgrace could he be reached and touched? I do not wish to hope in vain that the lips of those bishops in the world who are aware of the disaster – and they exist, we do know them! – continue to be sealed by a false understanding of unity.

But even if fear and the desire for a career should prevail and none of the addressees responds, the letter still has an important function: it keeps open the wound and increases the chance that a next pontiff will deal with these questions.

LifeSite: Can a simple Catholic recognize when a Pope teaches heresy – or that he supports it indirectly – or do you think that one has to be a deeply learned theologian in order to be able to come to such a conclusion?

Mosebach: The Catholic religion is perhaps the most complicated religion in the world, and that is why her doctrinal system, her philosophy, is only known to a small part of the faithful, but [knowing all] this is not necessary, because the Church has, in the form of the Catholic liturgy, an instrument with the help of which everybody, regardless of their education, is enabled to encounter God; and such an encounter with God stands far above all doctrine.

Indeed, there are theological questions which are difficult to settle even for an expert in the field. Because the discussion about truths of the Faith in the Church will never end, the Magisterium has gained this special significance: the thoughts and the life conditions of each century have to be measured again and again according to the standard of Tradition.

But there are also some simple sentences, for whose understanding one does not need to be a deeply learned theologian. “Go ye out into the world, teach all nations and baptize them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost” really does not mean “Let all nations keep their faith because God wished it so and created them with it in mind; it is thus not necessary to baptize them.” The sentence  “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” most probably does not mean “What therefore God has joined together, man is permitted to put asunder.”

LifeSite: As an attentive, literary observer of your age, how would you describe the “Francis effect”? How has the Catholic Church and the world changed under his pontificate?

Mosebach: The Catholic Church has become more and more bourgeois, she has assumed the character of the western Liberalism of North American Democrats and of the German Green Party. She presents herself as being anti-sacramental, anti-hierarchical, committed to the ultra-liberal claims of societal diversity and so on. But from these secular movements, she also adopted a strict authoritarianism which fancies itself with the motto “no tolerance for intolerance.” And according to it, what is intolerant is everything which corresponds to the Tradition of the Church.

LifeSite: How would you describe Pope Francis’ style of government?

Mosebach: His style of government is paradoxical: he is a ruler who demands submission and blind obedience in order to destroy, especially by this means, the spiritual foundation of all obedience. He uses the papal authority in order to undermine the papal Magisterium. It becomes more and more clear that he understands himself as an agent of a revolution from the top down. With this, and in retrospect, it is becoming finally and hopefully very clear even to the last optimist that the whole post-Conciliar era has already been such a revolution from the top down which, after certain Ritardandi [delays], is now finally standing before its fulfillment.

LifeSite: Some commentators say that Francis is now being accused of things – such as the clerical abuse crisis – for which he is not really responsible since the developments go back for decades? How do you see his approach with regard to the abuse crisis?

Mosebach: It is true that the Pope originally was only very little responsible for the crisis that was caused by the exposure of moral scandals, but he has given away this advantage. Fatally, it turned out that those prelates who are most embarrassingly involved in these scandals belonged to the favored pillars of his pontificate. That is why he had, and still has, difficulties in disclosing or abandoning them.

That is also the reason why he is not willing to name the true causes of the crisis, but rather invents phantoms such as a purported “clericalism.” The Pope of Mercy, of course, cannot return to the old canon law that had been abrogated in a tragic fashion by Pope Paul VI, with the help of which one could have mastered the problems in a very different manner. I fear that the Pope recognizes the abuse scandals first and foremost as a useful occasion to throw overboard as much Catholic Tradition as possible – which had shrunk already considerably under the last Popes.

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Will All the Sick Be Healed by God?

Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple by Benjamin West, 1817 [Penn Art Collection, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia]

Should we hope that people who are ill will be miraculously healed by God?  It seems that the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the Church at Pentecost are all but forgotten today, especially the gift of healing. Christians are not limited to science, are they? God is still God, and He gave gifts to His Church.  Jesus raised people from the dead.  The Apostles worked signs and wonders.  Where are the signs and wonders today? (Cf. Acts 4) Where are our bishops, the successors of the Apostles, healing God’s people today?

The questioner seems distressed at the lack of expressed faith in the Church today in Jesus’s wonder-working power. If there is any deficiency today, I suggest it is more often a lack of faith not just in miracles, but in all the creedal mysteries.  If the never-ending sad revelations in the Church tell us anything it’s that there are not a few even among Christians who no longer believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.

At the same time, my Catholic journey – I’m a 1983 convert – has shown me a different facet of the Church’s face. I’ve had the good pleasure of associating with loads of people, including numerous priests, who acknowledge the gifts of the Spirit and place great faith – and at times undue expectation – in Jesus’ healing power.

So rather than replying to your distress, my reply will be more geeky and theological.

For purposes of our discussion, a miracle is something done supernaturally, that is, an effect caused by divine power.  It may be mediated by non-divine beings, such as angels or humans, but God is the one who brings it about. To use a technical term, he is its “efficient cause.”  (This implies that when malign spirits cause extraordinary effects, as proper to their angelic natures, these shouldn’t be called miracles.)

I divide the inquiry into three questions.

Does God cause miracles today like the ones we see in the Acts of the Apostles? 

Yes, he does.  A simple Google search will bring up many accounts from around the world of Jesus’ name being invoked to raise people from the dead, miraculously multiply food and heal people of all kinds of afflictions.  And unless one rejects out of hand the possibility of miracles, the evidence in many of these cases – though of course not all – is quite credible.

We know, too, of the plenteous accounts of miraculous healings in the biographies of the saints. We know that the ecclesial process of canonization relies on two miracles – stringently verified – as evidence of a person’s heavenly intercession.  And we know that most canonization miracles involve miraculous healings.

Should we hope that God will miraculously cure everyone who is afflicted in body or soul?

Yes.  But we should not expect it.  Why not?  For two reasons.

First, because God has not told us to expect it.  Although Scripture tells us that God gave the Twelve – and hence their Successors – power and authority to heal the sick (Lk. 9:1; Matt. 10:1), and though we see multiple instances where signs and wonders accompany the disciples’ proclamation of Jesus Christ (Acts 4; Lk. 10:17-19), nevertheless, Scripture nowhere says or even implies that God will grant every petition for a miraculous sign.

In fact, Jesus refers to the generation that seeks for signs as “evil and adulterous” (Matt. 16:4), and says to those who command miracles but don’t do the Father’s will, “I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:22-23)

Scripture testifies that Jesus’s miracles, and the miracles that Christians perform in his name, serve one principal purpose: to offer evidence for Christ’s identity so as to catalyze people’s faith. (Acts 2:22, Acts 3:1-4:4; Jn. 5:36, 10: 25).  Jesus claimed he was the Messiah (Matt. 16:17), the Son of God (Matt. 26:63-64), and even took for himself the holy name of God. (Jn. 8:51-58) If indeed we can’t accept the claims he makes by his words, claims that are extremely difficult to accept at face value, then we may believe when we see his extraordinary works. (Jn. 10:38)

Thus Vatican II teaches:

This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. (Dei Verbum2).

Recall the healing of the paralyzed man. Jesus sees the faith of his friends and says to the man his sins are forgiven.  Jewish leaders mutter to themselves that Jesus is blaspheming.  Knowing their thoughts, Jesus rebukes them and asserts: which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?  He then turns to the paralytic and commands him to rise and go home.  The man is healed.  (Matt. 9:2-8; cf. Jn. 11:42)

The message is obvious. Though the forgiveness of sins is the harder of the two, Jesus can do both.  And he does the one – he heals – to illustrate that he not only can forgive sins, but that the forgiveness of sins is central to his mission.

The second reason is experience.  Those who hope in God to heal the sick know from experience that the vast majority of prayers for miraculous healings go unanswered, at least as asked.  This should not be taken, or not always taken, as a sign of lack of faith, but rather an expression of God’s will.  As the Catechism notes, God heals, yes, but he only heals some, not all. (nos. 1505, 1508)

What is the role of bishops in promoting healing?

It is central.  As the Apostles received from Jesus the command to heal the sick, their successors carry on the apostolic charge.  The sacraments are the ordinary means by which the Church fulfills this command.  The Letter of James says:

Is any among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (Js. 5:14-15)

This is a Biblical warrant for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  This sacrament together with the Sacrament of Penance is known as a “sacrament of healing.” (see CCC, 1421)  Whenever these are administered, they are so done by the authority of the Successors of the Apostles.

As to whether those Successors believe in Jesus’s power to heal . . . each tree is known by its own fruit.

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Vatican Transgender Document

 

 

 

Dr Robert Moynihan’s latest letter is about the new document on Gender Theory from a Vatican office published on June 10 and it includes some predictably toxic reactions (James Martin alert!):

 

About mid-day on Monday, June 10, the Vatican Press Office sent an email to all Vatican journalists with a long, 30-page text attached in pdf files in several languages. The text was to be kept under “embargo” until later that same afternoon, then published at 3:30 p.m., Rome time.

And so the longest official text on gender by a Vatican office is now in the public domain.

On the one hand, this is a good thing.

The text clearly states that the traditional teaching of the Church on gender is true: that there are two genders, male and female, given by nature, and that, consequently, the modern “gender theory” that sees gender as merely a “fluid” product of “social conditioning” and “individual choice” is not true.

But spending so much time and so many pages to stress the need to “dialogue” with the proponents of this modern “gender theory” is in some ways worrisome.

It shows the surprising power and influence of the proponents of “gender theory” and suggests that the profound harm done by at least some forms of “gender theory” to many susceptible young people is still — unfortunately — underestimated by Church officials.

That some forms of “gender theory” can lead young people into profound confusion about their gender, and then, eventually, into choices that serious observers characterize as abusive and catastrophic, is implied in some passages of this document, but is not stated as explicitly as it should be.

In fact, confusion sparked by “gender theory” and its proponents in the medical field has caused some young people years and decades of profound misery, so much so that true Christian love for them would seem to demand that everything possible would be done to prevent them from entering into that whirlpool of confusion.

In this regard, there is a brief video that seems worth noting.

Walt Heyer is an American author and public speaker who formerly identified and lived as a “transgender” person. Born in 1940 as a boy, after his grandmother in 1944 dressed him in a girl’s dress at age four and told him how nice he looked, Heyer chose to try to become a woman named “Laura” in 1983, then, after nine difficult years, in 1992 chose to return to his original gender again. Heyer is the author of several books, and through his website, SexChangeRegret.com, he raises public awareness about those who regret gender change and the tragic consequences suffered as a result.

In this video, from a Washington D.C. conference at the Heritage Foundation on April 4, 2019, about two months ago, Heyer shares his story and warns against implementing radical hormonal and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children.

He maintains that our modern medical and psychology establishment is tragically “manufacturing” transgender kids.

One wishes that the Vatican’s document might have contained some statement of more profound concern and alarm over the abuse many children may potentially suffer from the effects of some forms of modern “gender theory.”

Here, again, is a link to the video of Heyer’s talk: link.

And here is a brief Rome Reports video on the matter.

===============

The new Vatican document, entitled “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender in Education,” was signed by the Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, and written as a guide for Catholic schools, teachers and educators. (It is, therefore, not a document written or signed by Pope Francis.)

Essentially, the document makes two points: that the Church should be willing to “dialogue” on the modern theory of gender, but should defend the traditional Christian belief that gender in nature is a “given” and not simply a “social construct.”

In particular, it is addressed to Catholic schools and to those who, inspired by a Christian vision, work in other schools; to parents, students, and staff; but also to bishops, priests, and religious, as well as ecclesial movements and associations of the faithful.

The Congregation for Catholic Education, which prepared the text, speaks of “an educational crisis,” in particular on the themes of affectivity and sexuality, in the face of “challenges emerging from varying forms of an ideology that is given the general name ‘gender theory,’ which ‘denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman,’” and considers them as “merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning.”

Gender identity would then “become the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”

The text speaks of an anthropological disorientation that characterizes the cultural climate of our time, contributing to “the destabilization of the family.”

Quoting Amoris laetitia, the document says that, among other things, this ideology “leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female.”

The document makes a distinction “between the ideology of gender on the one hand, and the whole field of research on gender that the human sciences have undertaken, on the other.”

Citing Pope Francis, it notes that “while the ideologies of gender claim to respond […] ‘to what are at times understandable aspirations’, they also seek ‘to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised,’ and thus preclude dialogue.”

Nonetheless, scientific research has been carried out which seeks to deepen our understanding of the differences between men and women, and how those are experienced.

The document therefore explains that “it is in relation to this type of research than we should be open to listen, to reason and to propose.”

======

“Anti-Trans”?

A website called the “Friendly Atheist” saw the document as an “anti-Trans” document.

The story headline reads:

Vatican Releases New Anti-Trans Document Trashing the Concept of “Gender Theory”

Written by Hemant Mehta, the June 10 story begins this way (link):

“In a stunning document that confirms the anti-LGBTQ stance of the Catholic Church, the Vatican took a position on gender identity that effectively dismisses the very existence of intersex and transgender people, calling those labels ‘provocative’ displays against ‘traditional frameworks.’ As if people who are trans are just doing it to be rebels.”

============

“A Harmful Tool”?

A statement form the pro-LGBT “New Ways Ministry” website was sharply critical of the new document, saying its critique of modern “Gender Theory” shows that “the Vatican remains in the dark ages.”

Here is the statement (link):

New Ways Ministry Responds to New Vatican Document on Gender Identity

The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry:

The Vatican’s new document on gender identity, “Male and Female He Created Them,” is a harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people, too. The document associates sexual and gender minorities with libertine sexuality, a gross misrepresentation of the lives of LGBT people which perpetuates and encourages hatred, bigotry, and violence against them.

The document, from the Congregation for Catholic Education, will confuse those who sincerely struggle with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Such confusion leads to self-harm, addiction, and even suicide. The misinformation the document contains will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation of LGBT people from the Church.

The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world. By ignoring new scientific understandings of gender identity, and by refusing to engage in dialogue with LGBT people about their lived experiences of self-understanding and faith, the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods. Because they have not consulted science or people’s experiences, the Vatican’s theology on gender is deficient and flawed. It relies on categories of male and female that were shaped centuries ago in oppressive and repressive cultures.

The Vatican maintains the idea that gender is determined solely by visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is and incorrect and harmful way to categorize people. Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones, and brain chemistry – things not visible at birth. People do not choose their gender, as the Vatican claims: they discover it through their lived experiences. The Church should respect and encourage this process of discovery, because it is a process by which individuals discover the wonderful way that God has created them.

Although the Vatican calls the Church to dialogue and listen to people, dialogue and listening are thwarted and useless if church leaders have already determined that the people they are listening to are influenced by ideology. Dialogue requires mutual respect, which this document does not exhibit or promote.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 10, 2019

===========

“Let the dialogue begin”?

Jesuit Father James Martin, writing in the magazine of the American Jesuit Order, America, had a mixed response to the document. He praised it for calling for “dialogue” on “Gender Theory,” but criticized it for restating traditional Catholic teaching on human sexuality.

Here is his piece (link):

Listen to the L.G.B.T. person: a response to the Vatican’s gender theory document

By James Martin, S.J.

June 11, 2019

In recent years the Vatican (including popes, congregations and dicasteries) have expressed concern over “gender theory” and “gender ideology.” The latest document from the Congregation for Catholic Education, titled “Male and Female He Created Them,” is the most comprehensive treatment of the topic yet. As America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, reports, the document comes from a Vatican Congregation and was not signed by Pope Francis, so it is not intended as the “final answer” on the topic.

Gender theory is a notoriously slippery term. Broadly, it refers to the study of gender and sexuality and how those two realities are determined naturally (that is, biologically) and/or socially (that is, culturally). Usually it includes the study of the experiences of gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and all those who identify as “queer,” another often-ambiguous term that can mean (but does not always mean) a decision to identify oneself outside of categories like male or female, or gay or straight.

The congregation’s new document is an explicit call for dialogue, which all should welcome.

For some critics, gender theory also represents an “ideology” that seeks to impose itself on others, “encouraging” or “forcing” some people, especially youth, to question and restate their own sexuality and gender. In some church circles, especially in the developing world, it is often linked to a form of “ideological colonialism” that seeks to impose Western ideas of sexuality and gender on developing nations. Pope Francis has several times adverted to this belief.

The congregation’s new document should be praised for its call for “listening” and “dialogue.” The subtitle is important: “Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” It is an explicit call for dialogue, which all should welcome. It speaks of a “path,” which indicates that the church has not yet reached the destination. It focuses on the “question” of gender theory in education, which leaves some degree of openness, and is thus addressed mainly to educators and “formators,” including those responsible for the training of priests and members of religious orders.

Another positive aspect of this document is its clear call to “respect every person in their particularity and difference” and its opposition to “bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination.” It also praises “the ability to welcome all legitimate expressions of human personhood with respect.”

The document’s conclusion speaks of the path of dialogue, which includes “listening, reasoning and proposing.” As such, it leaves open room for further developments and also avoids some of the harsh language of other Vatican pronouncements on sexuality and, especially, on homosexuality.

This traditional view, however, is contradicted by what most biologists and psychologists now understand about both sexuality and gender.

Let me, then, engage in the respectful dialogue called for, as someone who ministers to L.G.B.T. people.

What does the congregation propose? Essentially, and unsurprisingly, its document restates the traditional Catholic view of sexuality: Men and women are created (as heterosexuals) with fixed sexual and gender roles. This traditional view, however, is contradicted by what most biologists and psychologists now understand about both sexuality and gender. These contemporary advances in understanding human sexuality and gender have been set aside by the congregation in favor of a binary understanding of sexuality. Even the term “sexual orientation” is put into quotes in the document, as if to call that very notion into question.

The crux of the congregation’s argument is in this understanding of gender: “This separation [of sex from gender] is at the root of the distinctions proposed by different ‘sexual orientations’ which are no longer defined by the sexual difference between male and female, and can then assume other forms determined solely by the individual, who is seen as radically autonomous.”

One objection to that proposition is that it ignores the real-life experience of L.G.B.T. people. In fact, the document’s primary partners for conversation seem to be philosophers, theologians and older church documents and papal statements—not biologists or scientists, not psychiatrists or psychologists, and not L.G.B.T. people and their families. If more people had been included in the dialogue, the congregation would probably find room for the now commonly held understanding that sexuality is not chosen by a person but is rather part of the way that they are created.

If more people had been included in the dialogue, the congregation would probably find room for the now commonly held understanding that sexuality is not chosen by a person but is rather part of the way that they are created.

In fact, for a document that relies so heavily (albeit implicitly) on natural law, it ignores what we increasingly understand about the natural world, where we see men and women attracted to the same sex, men and women feeling a variety of sexual feelings throughout their lifetimes, and men and women finding themselves more on a spectrum than on any fixed place when it comes to sexuality and, occasionally, even gender.

The congregation also suggests that discussions about gender identity involve an intentional choice of gender by an individual. But people who are transgender report that they do not choose their identity but discover it through their experiences as human beings in a social world.

Again, the document largely neglects to engage in discussions about new scientific understandings and discoveries about gender. It relies mainly on the belief that gender is determined solely by one’s visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is an incorrect (and sometimes even harmful) way to categorize people. Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones and brain chemistry—things that are not visible at birth. The congregation’s document relies heavily on categories of “male” and “female” that were shaped centuries ago, and not always with the most accurate scientific methods.

The document relies mainly on the belief that gender is determined solely by one’s visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is an incorrect (and sometimes even harmful) way to categorize people.

The document is also undergirded by the notion of “complementarity,” which means that based on their gender (male and female), men and women have separate roles. In a sentence sure to raise eyebrows the congregation writes, “Women have a unique understanding of reality. They possess a capacity to endure adversity…” Not men? Such ideas reinforce stereotyping and prevent both men and women from rising above precisely those cultural constructs that the Vatican often rightly decries.

The most unfortunate aspect of this document is the way the congregation understands transgender people. (Oddly, in a document about gender and sexuality, the words “homosexual” or “homosexuality” are absent.) Consider this passage: “This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks’, and one which, in fact, ignores the suffering of those who have to live situations of sexual indeterminacy. Similar theories aim to annihilate the concept of ‘nature’ (that is, everything we have been given as a pre-existing foundation of our being and action in the world), while at the same time implicitly reaffirming its existence.”

In this formulation, transgender people are being “provocative” and are either consciously or unconsciously trying to “annihilate the concept of ‘nature.’” Friends and family members who have accompanied a transgender person through their attempts at suicide, their despair over fitting into the larger society, or their acceptance that God loves them will find that sentence baffling and even offensive.

Perhaps the most thoughtful response to this approach comes from a Catholic deacon, Ray Dever, who has a transgender child and wrote about his family’s experience in U.S. Catholic. As he writes, “Anyone with any significant first-hand experience with transgender individuals would be baffled by the suggestion that trans people are somehow the result of an ideology. It is a historical fact that long before there were gender studies programs in any university or the phrase gender ideology was ever spoken, transgender people were present, recognized, and even valued in some cultures around the world.”

The most likely short-term result of “Male and Female He Created Them” will be to provide ammunition for Catholics who would deny the reality of the transgender experience, who would label transgender people as simple ideologues, and who would deny their real-life experiences. It will most likely contribute to a greater feeling of isolation, a greater feeling of shame and a greater marginalization of those who are already marginalized in their own church: transgender people.

Let us return to the more positive aspect of this document, which could be the long-term result: the call for listening and dialogue. The congregation seems sincere in its invitation. The church, like the rest of society, is still learning about the complexities of human sexuality and gender. The next step, then, could be for the church to listen to responses from those that this document most directly affects: L.G.B.T. people themselves.

Let the dialogue begin.

[end James Martin article]

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Wherein Fr. Z reads, rants and prays

From Father Z’s blog:

There is an article today at National Review which has a reaction to Pope Francis’ strange words about the Eucharist.  HERE.   Francis said that, since “there is already unity” among Christians, then we shouldn’t have to “wait for theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

Is that so?  If that is the case, then a fundamental principle we Catholics have embraced since the beginning of the Eucharist is being overthrown.  The idea is this: The reception of the Eucharist in Communion together both reflects unity and creates unity.  However, one of those has logical priority and chronological priority.  Common belief in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist is a sine qua non for its reception in common with other Catholics.  Once unity in belief is established, then reception continues to deepen the unity.  But the one must precede the other, logically and chronologically for “communion”, in its proper sense, to be authentic.   Admission of those who do notbelieve and who do not publicly profess what Church teaches about the Eucharist, is to cause a false appearance of communion and an abuse of the sacrament of unity.  In other words, reception of the Eucharist cannot, by itself, create communion.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t replace it.  Hence, what Francis said is troubling at best and disturbing at non-best.  I don’t know how to square what he is suggesting.

I’m a convert.  I was Lutheran.  No Communion for me before I converted.  Lutherans don’t believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. Period.  No Communion for them, or any other person who doesn’t believe what the Church teaches.  This is not rocket science and every Catholic who has even the slightest clue knows this is true.  I’m not making this up.

In these confused and confusing times, there are some days when we are able to collect a few more threads than usual in our weaving of lifelines upon the thrashing deck of the Barque of Peter.   Today seems to be one of those days.

First, there is issued a “Declaration of Truths”, which I wrote of HERE.

Then, there is a new book translated into English of essays, etc., by Roberto De Mattei.

Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church

US HERE – UK HERE

In the forward by Cardinal Burke, I read a key phrase:

Only by fidelity to Sacred Tradition can the Bride of Christ, amid the many challenges she faces, chart her course, in accord with the will of Christ, her Bridegroom, her Head and Shepherd at every time and in every place.

Succinct and just plain right.

These are troubled and troubling times.  However, help is showing up for the troubled in the form of sound reflection and the thoughtful, faithful writings that flow from reflection.

De Mattei, right off the bat in his book, attempts to remind the reader that the Church has had some pretty rocky times in the past, and that many of those challenges – which at times seemed existential – were caused by Popes and were handled by the faithful who resisted them with humble fidelity to what the Church has handed down in her Sacred Tradition.   He even has a startling offering entitled “The Sack of Rome (1527): A Merciful Chastisement.”   A key to the events that lead to the truly hideous rampage through Rome of Protestant led troops was the refusal of Clement VII to head his predecessor Adrian VI’s appeal for radical reform.   The shock to the Roman Church’s identity seems to have awakened her so that she initiated a counter-reformation that produced a Council of Trent and defeat of the Turks in 1571 at Lepanto.

Someone like Jordan Peterson points out that we can make huge changes in our lives through small, incremental and compounding changes.  Otherwise we can deal with change through disaster management.   The same goes for the Church.

The situation we are in right now didn’t happen overnight.  The situation we are in right now isn’t going to be fixed overnight.  We shall eventually wake up to the need to make necessary changes.  We can do so incrementally and let compound like interest to our benefit or we can wait for the chastisement which our loving Savior will permit for our correction.   It is Christ’s Church, remember.   And as De Mattei wrote his preface,

Only Jesus Christ can save the Church – no one else – because He alone is her Founder and Head.  Human beings, from the Vicar of Christ down to the last member of the faithful, can either cooperate with or resist the divine grace that comes to them through the influence of the Holy Spirit and impels them to radical fidelity to Christ and His Law.

Remember, grace builds on nature.   In our lives we get through with grace, but grace needs our elbow grease.

I write this on Monday in the Octave of Easter, which in the modern calendar is now also the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.  Mary, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry said, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Oh, Lord!  Tell us what to do now! Mary, at the end of Christ’s public ministry, stood in perfectly unified resistance to evil by her silent vigil at the Cross.   Oh Lord!  Make us steadfast by your Cross.  Upon Mary the Holy Spirit poured even as it poured out on the Apostles to strengthen them at the birth of the Church on that first Pentecost.   Oh Lord! Strengthen us all in your fire-breath of grace!

Yesterday, on Pentecost, I reminded the flock of one of the effects of the outpouring of the Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.   Confirmation also strengthens us to make the hard call and then stand firm when we are challenged in our Christian living.  We can call upon the power of this sacrament, which has imparted an indelible character, like the potter’s mark of ownership, into our souls.  Confirmation is an ongoing reality in our lives just as the Pentecost event is an ongoing reality in the Church.

The RUACH hasn’t stopped, though our ears are now deafened to Its roaring course.

As we move forward in these troubled and troubling times, make a conscious choice to call upon that mighty sacrament you received.  Activate it. 

Mind you, the sacrament will be mighty in you when you are in the state of grace.  I repeat, therefore, my perennial admonition.

GO TO CONFESSION!

Then get up off the ground, stand up, stick your chin out and say,

“Almighty God my heavenly Father, You knew me before the creation of the cosmos and You wanted me to come into existence to bring You glory.  Of all the possible universes You could have created, You created this one and You called me into it at exactly the time and place You chose for me so that I could fulfill my part in Your unfathomable plan.  You willed that I have the honor to be baptized into the Church You designed and You maintain for our well-being.  You willed that I receive the Body and Blood of Your Son and the indwelling of Your Spirit.   You willed that I should also be confirmed so that our relationship be even deeper and that I might be an even better instrument of Your will.  I now call upon that mighty Sacrament of Confirmation.  Through it make me strong to bear whatever burdens I must endure in Your service.  Make me wise to recognize accurately and then strong to resist, resolute, whatever is out of harmony with Your will as manifested especially in the beautiful Tradition You have guided in the authoritative, infallible and indefectible Church. Even if that disharmony should come from those whom you have endowed with the grace of Orders and seated even in the highest places of teaching, governing and sanctifying, make me steadfast.  With confidence in Your plan for me I ask this for myself and for the brethren through the Holy Spirit’s Gifts and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.”

 

Further reading: what-is-pope-francis-saying-about-communion

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Cdl Burke, Bp Schneider issue ‘declaration of truths’ to correct rampant ‘doctrinal confusion’ in Church

Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider speak in 2016 at a conference held in Rome by the Lepanto Foundation.

From LifeSiteNews: 

ROME, June 10, 2019

Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, together with several other bishops, have issued a public declaration of truths of the faith to remedy the “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” endangering the spiritual health and eternal salvation of souls in the Church today.

PETITION: Support Senior Cardinals’ and Bishops’ Declaration of Truths Amid Confusion in Universal Church. Sign the petition here.

Some of the 40 truths which are elucidated in the declaration implicitly reference statements made by Pope Francis, while others relate to points of confusion that have arisen or intensified during the current pontificate. Still others address moral errors in society that are gravely harming lives, as much of the heirarchy stands by.

The eight-page document (see full text below), released in several languages on Pentecost Monday, June 10, is entitled Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time.

The declaration upholds the Church’s perennial teaching on the Eucharist, marriage and priestly celibacy.

Also included among the truths of the faith is that “hell exists” and that human souls who are “condemned to hell for any unrepented mortal sin” suffer there eternally; that the “only religion positively willed by God” is that born in faith in Jesus Christ; and that “homosexual acts” and gender reassignment surgery are “grave sins” and a “rebellion” against divine and natural law.

Signatories of the declaration include: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop emeritus of Riga, Latvia; His Excellency Tomash Peta, Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan; Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda, Kazakhstan; and Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana.

Explanatory note

In an explanatory note replete with references to St. Paul, the Church Fathers and the documents of Vatican II, the Cardinals and Bishops write that the Church is experiencing one of the “greatest spiritual epidemics” in her history, and a “widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days.”

“Our time is characterized by an acute spiritual hunger of the Catholic faithful all over the world for a reaffirmation of those truths that are obfuscated, undermined, and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time,” they say.

The prelates argue that the faithful feel “abandoned,” finding themselves in a “kind of existential periphery” and that such a situation “urgently demands a concrete remedy.” The public declaration of truths they have signed, they add, cannot be further delayed.

Aware of their “grave responsibility” as bishops to teach the “fullness of Christ” and “speaking the truth in love,” they say the declaration is being published in a “spirit of fraternal charity” and as a “concrete spiritual help” so that bishops, priests, religious and laity might confess “either privately or publicly” these truths that today are “mostly denied or disfigured.”

While the signatories do not specify what form such public professions might take, one might reasonably imagine they could include a bishop making a profession in his cathedral, a priest making a profession in his parish, a religious superior making a profession in their monastery or friary, or a lay group making a profession at a public event or on the internet.

“Before the eyes of the Divine Judge and in his own conscience, each bishop, priest, and lay faithful has the moral duty to give witness unambiguously to those truths that in our days are obfuscated, undermined, and denied,” the signatories write.

Exhorting Catholic bishops and laity to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6: 12), the signatories say they believe “private and public acts of a declaration of these truths” could be the beginning of “a movement” to confess and defend the truth — and to make reparation for “hidden and open sins of apostasy” committed by clergy and laity alike.

The signatories note, however, that “such a movement will not judge itself according to numbers, but according to the truth.”

“God does not delight in numbers, (Or. 42:7),” they write, quoting St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who lived amid the doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis.

Released one day after Pentecost, the declaration also stresses the power of the “immutable Catholic Faith” to unite the members of Christ’s Mystical Body across the ages.

It emphasizes that the truths of the faith are not contrary to pastoral practice but are pastoral by their very nature because they unite us with Christ, who is Truth Incarnate.

The declaration thus implies that disguising the truth or making one’s private opinion to be doctrine is very unpastoral; and that confusing others, scandalizing them by watering down the faith, or seeming to contradict Catholic tradition is not helpful for people’s spiritual or emotional lives.

Taking up the words of St. Augustine, the signatories note that standing on “the pastoral watch-tower”  is the particular task of bishops.

“A common voice of Shepherds and the faithful, through a precise declaration of the truths will be without any doubt an efficient means of a fraternal and filial aid for the Supreme Pontiff in the current extraordinary situation of a general doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church,” they write.

The bishops and cardinals emphasize that the declaration is being issued “in the spirit of Christian charity.” Quoting St. Paul, they note that such charity is shown by caring for “the spiritual health both of Shepherds and faithful, i.e., of all the members of Christ’s Body.”

The signatories conclude by entrusting the declaration of truths to “the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God under the invocation ‘Salus populi Romani’ (‘Salvation of the Roman People’),” given the “privileged spiritual meaning which this icon has for the Roman Church.”

As a sign of this entrustment, the declaration and explanatory note are dated May 31, 2019 — the liturgical feast of the Visitation in the new calendar, the feast of Our Lady Virgin and Queen in the old calendar, and the optional feast of Our Lady Mediatrix of all Graces.

Learn more about Cardinal Burke’s views and past actions by visiting FaithfulShepherds.comClick here.

The Declaration  

The declaration of truths is composed of four parts: Fundamentals of Faith (1-2), The Creed (3-11), The Law of God (12-29) and The Sacraments (30-40).

The first part, on the “Fundamentals of Faith,” addresses attacks against the Church’s infallibility and the problem of doctrinal relativism, i.e. belief that the meaning of Catholic doctrine changes or evolves, depending on the historic age or circumstances.

Referencing the First Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Catholic Faith, Dei Filius, it states that the “right meaning” of expressions like “living Magisterium,” “hermeneutic of continuity,” and “development of doctrine” includes the truth that “whatever new insights may be expressed regarding the deposit of faith, nevertheless they cannot be contrary to what the Church has always proposed in the same dogma, in the same sense, and in the same meaning” (1).

Quoting a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it adds that “the meaning of dogmatic formulas remains ever true and constant in the Church, even when it is expressed with greater clarity or more developed.” It adds that the faithful must therefore “shun” the opinion that dogmatic formulations cannot “signify truth in a determinate way” or that these dogmatic formulas are only indeterminate “approximations” of truth (2).

The second part, on “The Creed,” dispels the error that “God is glorified principally by the very fact of the progress in the temporal and earthly condition of the human race” (3). It also states that Muslims and other non-Christians do not adore God in the same way as Christians, as Christian adoration is a supernatural act of faith (5). It further states the goal of “true ecumenism” is that “non-Catholics should enter that unity which the Catholic Church already indestructibly possesses” (7).

Part II on the Creed also affirms explicitly that “hell exists and those who are condemned to hell for any unrepented mortal sin are eternally punished there by Divine justice.” It therefore rejects the theory of “annhilism” which claims that the damned will cease to exist after the final judgement rather than suffering everlasting torment in hell.

In a clear reference to the controversial declaration which Pope Francis signed in Abu Dhabi, stating that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God,” Part II also states that “The religion born of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God and the only Savior of humankind, is the only religion positively willed by God.”

The Pope has said privately and subsequently at a Wednesday general audience that the Abu Dhabi declaration’s controversial statement refers to the “permissive” will of God, but there has been no official correction of the document.

The third part of the declaration, on the “Law of God,” is devoted to truths of the Catholic moral tradition. In this third section, the cardinals and bishops reaffirm the Church’s teaching, as expressed by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor, that Christians are obliged to “acknowledge and respect the specific moral precepts declared and taught by the Church in the name of God.” Based on the same encyclical, they reject the notion that “deliberate choices of kinds of behavior contrary to the commandments of the Divine and natural” law can somehow be justified as “morally good” (13).

Again, citing John Paul II (Evangelium vitae), the cardinals and bishops reaffirm that divine revelation and natural law include “negative prohibitions that absolutely forbid certain kinds of action, inasmuch as these kinds of action are always gravely unlawful on account of their object” (14), i.e. intrinsically evil acts. They add, therefore, that the opinion is “wrong” that says that “a good intention or a good consequence is or can ever be sufficient to justify the commission of such kinds of action” (15).

In a series of points, the signatories then reiterate the Church’s teaching that abortion is “forbidden by natural and divine law” (16); that “procedures which cause conception to happen outside of the womb are morally unacceptable” (17); and that “euthanasia” is a “grave violation of the law of God,” since it is the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person” (18).

The declaration also devotes several points to marriage. It reaffirms that “by divine ordinance and natural law,” marriage is “an indissoluble union of one man and of one woman” which is “ordained for the procreation and education of children” (19-20).

It reasserts that “by natural and divine law no human being may voluntarily and without sin exercise his sexual powers outside of a valid marriage” (20), e.g. through pre-marital relations, co-habitation. It adds that it is “contrary to Holy Scripture and Tradition to affirm that conscience can truly and rightly judge that sexual acts between persons who have contracted a civil marriage with each other, can sometimes be morally right or requested or even commanded by God, although one or both persons is sacramentally married to another person (see 1 Cor 7: 11; John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 84).

Citing Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, it reiterates the Church prohibition against contraception, stating that “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (21).

In a clear reference to confusion arising after the promulgation the summary document on the family synod, Amoris Laetitia, the declaration also reasserts that those who obtain a civil divorce from a spouse to whom they are validly married and enter into a second union, living “in a marital way with the civil partner” with full knowledge and consent, “are in a state of moral sin and therefore cannot receive sanctifying grace and grow in charity” (22).

Regarding homosexuality, the signatories reaffirm with Scripture and tradition that “two persons of the same sex sin gravely when they seek venereal pleasure from each other (see Lev 18:22; Lev 20:13; Rom 1:24-28; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7) and that homosexual acts “under no circumstances can be approved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357) (23).

It therefore adds that it is “contrary to natural law and Divine Revelation” to say that “as God the Creator has given to some humans a natural disposition to feel sexual desire for persons of the opposite sex, so also He has given to others a natural disposition to feel sexual desire for persons of the same sex, and that God intends that the latter disposition be acted on in some circumstances” (23).

Regarding so-called same-sex “marriage,” the cardinals and bishops state that no “human law” nor “any human power whatsoever,” can “give to two persons of the same sex the right to marry one another or declare two such persons to be married, since this is contrary to natural and Divine law” (24).

Concerning gender theory, the declaration reaffirms that “the male and female sexes, man and woman, are biological realities created by the wise will of God.” It therefore terms gender reassignment surgery a “rebellion against natural and divine law” and a “grave sin.”

Part III of the declaration ends by reasserting the Church’s teaching on the legitimacy of the death penalty (28) and reaffirming her teaching on the social Kingship of Christ (29).

Finally, Part IV of the declaration, on the Sacraments, reasserts the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation (30); on the nature of the Holy Mass as “a true and proper sacrifice is offered to the Blessed Trinity and this sacrifice is propitiatory both for men living on earth and for the souls in Purgatory” (32); on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist; and on the essential difference between the ordained priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful (34).

Regarding the Sacrament of Penance, it reaffirms the teaching of the Council of Trent that this sacrament is “the only ordinary means by which grave sins committed after Baptism may be remitted, and by Divine law all such sins must be confessed by number and by species”  (see Council of Trent, sess. 14, can. 7). It also states that by divine law “the confessor may not violate” the seal of Confession, nor may any “ecclesiastical authority” or “civil power” oblige him to do so (36).

It further specifies that “by virtue of the will of Christ and the unchangeable Tradition of the Church, the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist may not be given to those who are in a public state of objectively grave sin, and sacramental absolution may not be given to those who express their unwillingness to conform to Divine law, even if their unwillingness pertains only to a single grave matter (see Council of Trent, sess. 14, c. 4; Pope John Paul II, Message to the Major Penitentiary Cardinal William W. Baum, on March 22, 1996).”

The declaration concludes by reaffirming that priestly celibacy “belongs to immemorial and apostolic tradition according to the constant witness of the Fathers of the Church and of the Roman Pontiffs” (39). In an apparent reference to the upcoming Amazonian Synod, it therefore states that priestly celibacy “should not be abolished in the Roman Church through the innovation of an optional priestly celibacy, either at the regional or the universal level” (39).

Finally, citing Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the declaration of truths concludes by reaffirming the male-only Catholic priesthood: “whether in the episcopacy, the priesthood, or the diaconate.”

Read the full Declaration in PDF form HERE. Read the explanatory note below, or in PDF form HERE. The Declaration first appeared in the National Catholic Register.

 

Explanatory note to the
“Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors
in the life of the Church of our time”

In our time the Church is experiencing one of the greatest spiritual epidemics, that is, an almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation, which is a seriously contagious danger for spiritual health and eternal salvation for many souls. At the same time one has to recognize a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days. This is largely caused by the non-compliance with the Apostolic duty – as stated also by the Second Vatican Council – to “vigilantly ward off any errors that threaten the flock” (Lumen gentium, 25).

Our time is characterized by an acute spiritual hunger of the Catholic faithful all over the world for a reaffirmation of those truths that are obfuscated, undermined, and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time. The faithful who are suffering this spiritual hunger feel themselves abandoned and thus find themselves in a kind of existential periphery. Such a situation urgently demands a concrete remedy. A public declaration of the truths regarding these errors cannot admit a further deferral. Hence we are mindful of the following timeless words of Pope Saint Gregory the Great: “Our tongue may not be slack to exhort, and having undertaken the office of bishops, our silence may not prove our condemnation at the tribunal of the just Judge. (…) The people committed to our care abandon God, and we are silent. They live in sin, and we do not stretch out a hand to correct.” (In Ev. hom. 17: 3. 14)

We are aware of our grave responsibility as Catholic bishops according to the admonition of Saint Paul, who teaches that God gave to His Church “shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4: 12-16).

In the spirit of fraternal charity, we publish this Declaration of truths as a concrete spiritual help, so that bishops, priests, parishes, religious convents, lay faithful associations, and private persons as well might have the opportunity to confess either privately or publicly those truths that in our days are mostly denied or disfigured. The following exhortation of the Apostle Paul should be understood as addressed also to each bishop and lay faithful of our time, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6: 12 – 14).

Before the eyes of the Divine Judge and in his own conscience, each bishop, priest, and lay faithful has the moral duty to give witness unambiguously to those truths that in our days are obfuscated, undermined, and denied. Private and public acts of a declaration of these truths could initiate a movement of a confession of the truth, of its defense, and of reparation for the widespread sins against the Faith, for the sins of hidden and open apostasy from Catholic Faith of a not small number both of the clergy and of the lay people. One has to bear in mind, however, that such a movement will not judge itself according to numbers, but according to the truth, as Saint Gregory of Nazianzus said, amidst the general doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis, that “God does not delight in numbers” (Or. 42:7).

In giving witness to the immutable Catholic Faith, clergy and faithful will remember the truth that “the entire body of the faithful cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith, when from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, 12).

Saints and great Bishops who lived in times of doctrinal crises may intercede for us and guide us with their teaching, as do the following words of Saint Augustine, with which he addressed Pope Saint Boniface I, “Since the pastoral watch-tower is common to all of us who discharge the office of the episcopate (although you are prominent therein on a loftier height), I do what I can in respect of my small portion of the charge, as the Lord condescends by the aid of your prayers to grant me power” (Contra ep. Pel. I, 2).

A common voice of the Shepherds and the faithful through a precise declaration of the truths will be without any doubt an efficient means of a fraternal and filial aid for the Supreme Pontiff in the current extraordinary situation of a general doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church.

We make this public Declaration in the spirit of Christian charity, which manifests itself in the care for the spiritual health both of the Shepherds and of the faithful, i.e., of all the members of Christ’s Body, which is the Church, while being mindful of the following words of Saint Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians: “That there might be no division in the body, but the members might be mutually careful one for another. If one member suffers any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12: 25 – 27), and in the Letter to the Romans: “As in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; or ministry, in ministering; or he that teaches, in doctrine; he that exhorts, in exhorting; hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honor preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord” (Rom. 12: 4 – 11).

The Cardinals and Bishops who sign this “Declaration of the truths” entrust it to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God under the invocation “Salus populi Romani” (“Salvation of the Roman People”), considering the privileged spiritual meaning which this icon has for the Roman Church. May the entire Catholic Church, under the protection of the Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God, “fight intrepidly the fight of the Faith, persist firmly in the doctrine of the Apostles and proceed safely amidst the storms of the world until she reaches the heavenly city” (Preface of the Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Salvation of the Roman people”).

May 31, 2019

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop emeritus of Riga
Tomash Peta, Archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Karaganda
Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

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Vatican all but wipes out conservative order of nuns for ‘too much prayer’

Little Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer

From LifeSiteNews.com:

All but five of the 39 Little Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, a conservative French religious order, have been relieved of their vows by the Vatican after refusing to submit to a group of Vatican-appointed commissioners led by a habitless liberal nun who wanted to impose “modern orientations” on the group, in the sister’s words.

The 34 nuns, who dress in traditional habits and care for the disabled and elderly in four different nursing homes, have been asked to relinquish their facilities and their religious dress now that they are no longer considered members of their institute. The fate of the nursing homes and their residents is now in question.

The ruling comes from the Holy See’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which oversees religious orders and institutes, led by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. Previous attempts by the sisters to overturn the congregation’s rulings against them by appealing to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura have failed, with the court reportedly dismissing their case without allowing them to fully present their arguments.

“Having looked to remaining faithful, as much to the Church as to the charism granted by Our Lord to Mother Marie de la Croix, having tried to find, many many times, a path of dialogue with Rome, having offered peaceful solutions, no agreement having been found, the authorities in Rome in charge of the Consecrated Life have now decided to choose to release us from our religious vows,” the sisters announcedon June 3, following the issuance of the decision on May 23.

“Whilst it is true that in the context of the moral pressure and the impasse that we found ourselves in, we were driven, last October, against our profound wishes, to ask to be released from our vows, since no other solution had ever been offered to enable us to remain in communion with the Church: we are profoundly wounded by this and remain sadly surprised that Rome has preferred to accept that request rather than accepting the peaceful solutions which we had put forward and which were possible,” the sisters added.

The lay-led Association in Support of the Little Sisters denounced the decision as a “grievous injustice” and blamed the bishop of the Diocese of Laval, Thierry Scherrer, for a personal vendetta against the group’s conservative mother superior that has now led to the destruction of the order.

“Mgr Scherrer wanted the head of the Superior General on a platter,” wrote the association. “An entire Congregation has been destroyed!”

“This unjust and violent decision gives rise to grave damage both moral and material to the Little Sisters of Mary who have given their lives in the service of the Church, in perfect fidelity to their religious vocation,” they add.

According to their lay supporters, the sisters were accused of a variety of offenses against modern sensibilities, including engaging in “too much prayer,” the use of the traditional habits, “deviant authoritarianism,” being “too classical” in their thinking, and being “unmoving” in their adherence to the charism of their institute. They also say the commissioners tried to turn the sisters against each other, offering prestigious positions in the order if they would conform to the commissioner’s authority, but their tactics failed. When the nuns refused to admit the commissioners, they were threatened with excommunication and requested to be relieved of their vows to avoid that outcome.

The support association says the decision to relieve the sisters of their vows instead of working out a solution with them came at the behest of Sr. Geneviève Médevielle, the principal apostolic commissioner named by the Vatican. Médevielle is a religious sister who dresses in lay clothing and wears a short haircut without a head covering. She is a professor of ethics at the Catholic Institute of Paris and the author of the recently published book Migrants, Francis, and us. Médevielle writes in defense of Amoris Laetitia against “conservatives and traditionalists” who criticize it.

The nuns were also reportedly under attack by the archbishop of Toulouse, Robert Le Gall, who prohibited one of the nuns’ houses from attending their more traditional form of Mass in their community chapel, apparently following their refusal to participate in Le Gall’s mass at the nursing home chapel due to their rejection of his liturgical practices.

Click here to read LifeSite’s November article detailing the conflict.

“Authoritarianism” and “moral harassment” from Church authorites led to destruction

The sisters’ support association is threatening to undertake legal measures against those who have brought about the destruction of the institute as an act of “moral harassment,” which is actionable under French law. The association promised that “as a matter of justice legitimate actions will be undertaken against those responsible, whatever their involvement, to obtain redress and to reveal the entire truth about this affair.”

The French Catholic newspaper La Croix further reported yesterday that the sisters “today are threatening Sister Geneviève Medevielle with a lawsuit for moral harassment.”

“It was with an authoritarianism and in a context of moral harassment, initiated by the Bishop of Laval, Mgr Scherrer, that the ecclesiastical authorities preferred to reduce the Little Sisters of Mary the Redeemer to the lay state, on 23rd May 2019, rather than opting for a peaceful solution, repeatedly proposed by the Little Sisters, but never really considered by the Congregation in Rome!” the support association declares on its website.

Our suffering enables us to live our vocation more fully, say sisters

The sisters, for their part, say  they will continue to live their life of prayer and see their suffering as enabling them to live their vocation even more deeply.

“Certainly, we have not lived through these two sorrowful years in order to lose the treasure which is for us the charism received from Mother Marie de la Croix. We want to continue to live together, in a life of prayer and service. Ecce!” the sisters write.

“Paradoxically and mysteriously, we live perhaps more than ever perhaps what is at the heart of our vocation: following in the way of Our Lady, to take our part of suffering in the fulfilment of the plan of our Redemption, in reparation, for the saving of souls, for the sanctification of priests, for the Church so damaged by all sorts of scandals, for the world. If Christ, our souls’ spouse, judges us worthy of carrying such a Cross, we must render thanks to him, in all things.”

Requests for comment from the Holy See were not answered by publication time.

Previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Conservative order of nuns on verge of destruction following Vatican interventions

Contact information (please be polite and respectful in all communications):

Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life:

Cardinal Prefect Joao Braz di Aviz: civcsva.pref@ccscrlife.va, phone: +39. 06. 69884121
Archbishop Secretary José Rodríguez Carballo: civcsva.segr@ccscrlife.va, phone: +39. 06. 69884584
General email form can be found here.
Information: +39. 06. 69884128; +39. 06. 69892511
Fax: +39. 06. 69884526

Association of Support for the Little Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer:

Main webpage in English: https://www.soutienpsm.com/severedifficulties

(You may also select French, Italian, or Spanish at upper right of webpage.)

Chez Mr Marcel MIGNOT
1 Avenue de Montréal
Résidence Montréal 2
72000 Le Mans
​Email: soutienpsm@gmail.com

To sign the petition of support for the Little Sisters: https://www.soutienpsm.com/signer-la-petition-anglais

Click here for links to detailed coverage by the French blog Riposte Catholique (can be translated to English easily with Google Translate — in Chrome browser right click on webpage and select “Translate to English”).

 

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Reflection for the Solemnity of Pentecost

Image result for pentecost painting el greco

 

 

The Solemnity of Pentecost is a splendid reminder of the universality of the love God has for us. At Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, the Church celebrates the powerful presence of God in our midst through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the people of God in ages past and to the present day. The traditional list of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is derived from Isaiah the Prophet, chapter 11, verses 1 – 3: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord.

In essence, Pentecost Sunday recounts the outpouring of these gifts by the Holy Spirit on the apostles and other disciples and the Mother of Jesus ten days after the Ascension of Jesus and fifty days after his resurrection. This is traditionally considered the beginning of the Church, the birthday of the Church.

Human history constantly speaks to us of the effects of sin. It is enough to look at the pages of any history book to see much division between peoples, leading to hatred, wars, death and revenge. Salvation history, on the other hand, recounted in Sacred Scripture, is about the presence of God constantly inviting people to overcome their divisions by what is sometimes called an “unseen warfare,” also referred to as “spiritual combat.”

This of course is not at all about taking up arms against others in the name of God, but of zealously striving to turn the entire heart and life over to God, seeking to do good, avoiding sin, loving and forgiving others, in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ. But this takes effort and work, comparable to warfare, but once again, understood as a spiritual endeavor.

In the books of the Bible we do in fact find a repetition of secular history, namely, the reality of division, war, hate, death and revenge, but with a difference: in the Bible we repeatedly hear about the distinct call from God. That call is to turn from sin and accept the invitation to live by the law of love and forgiveness. God makes that possible by constant intervention in human lives and by communicating to those who will listen.

Christians believe that salvation history culminates in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, acknowledged as the Redeemer of the human race. All that Christ promised during his public ministry was fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples so that they could go forth and bear witness to the mystery of life and salvation in God.

The consequences of sin, the divisions that exist between people, may still be present in the world, but the possibility of overcoming them and living a new life in Christ came to the fore in the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Sacred Scripture gives a clear example of the consequences of sin in the story of the Tower of Babel, from the eleventh chapter of the Book of Genesis. It is essentially the story of pride, when people decide to make a name for them selves by building a tower up to the sky in order to reach God. That plan is rejected by God, who scatters the people over the earth, resulting in confusion of languages and ultimately division between peoples. As cooperation and communication between people gets lost in the process, so also is lost communion with God.

The miracle of Pentecost, recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter two, is the opposite of the Babel story. At Pentecost people of diverse tongues unite. They come to realize that they are all in essence equal to each other, meaning everyone is eligible for receiving life in God and of being in communion with God and one another.

The grace of God produces unity and the disciples of Jesus experience this concretely at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “God is a God, not of confusion, but of peace,” Saint Paul reminds the believers at Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The message of Pentecost is simply that the direction of human history has changed. People can be forgiven of their sins and at peace with and reconciled to God, who has shared in our human nature in order to lift humankind to God.

Peace is the result of forgiveness. The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation (in the past more often called Confession or Penance) traditionally ends with “Go in peace, the Lord has forgiven you your sins.” Peace is a gift from God, the fruit of the cooperation of people with the grace of God. Those who act in accord with God’s will acquire interior peace.

It is no accident that Jesus clearly stated at the time of the coming of the Holy Spirit: “Peace be with you.” This above all is what he wishes to give his followers. It is not the peace of the world, the absence of war and abundance of material goods, for example. The peace of Christ is something else, a peace which no one can take away, which endures forever, which is without cost but more valuable than any earthly good. In essence peace is closely linked to the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.

To his followers, who receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave and gives a particular commandment, namely, to carry his peace, the message of salvation, to the ends of the earth. As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sends his followers forth. The forgiveness of sins is at the heart of the message of peace, entrusted to the Church by Christ, born at Pentecost.

At Baptism and Confirmation the gifts of the Holy Spirit are bestowed in a particular way. What becomes of those gifts is dependent on willing cooperation with the grace of God in life. We have been redeemed in the blood of Christ, brought to everlasting life by the presence of the Holy Spirit, wherein our faith, hope and love will grow.

In the Eucharist (Holy Mass) we experience over and again the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit, who now and always pours out gifts on the beloved of God. May we open our hearts so that we truly experience the marvelous action of the Holy Spirit leading us from the shadow of death to the house of our Maker, who is our lasting hope and peace.

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico 87510

Posted in Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Biblical Reflection | 1 Comment

Cardinal Pell Supporters Optimistic About Appeal Hearing

Cardinal George Pell is escorted into the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne for his appeal hearing on Thursday (ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP/Getty Images)

JUN. 7, 2019

Cardinal George Pell’s two-day appeal hearing ended yesterday after the court heard from the cardinal’s defense counsel on the first day, and the prosecution on the second.

On the first of the two days, Cardinal Pell’s lawyer, Bret Walker, defended the cardinal principally on the grounds that Cardinal Pell’s conviction last year on charges of sexual abuse was unreasonably based on the testimony of one surviving victim and that the trial judge unfairly disallowed defense evidence.

Walker argued that the guilty verdict was returned despite the lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

The following day, June 6, prosecutor Christopher Boyce reportedly struggled to answer questions from the three appeals court judges, and accidentally named the alleged victim, which is suppressed in these cases.

Boyce appeared to have difficulty articulating his own arguments, or was lost for words under judicial questioning. One of his arguments was that the alleged victim’s story was too outlandish to be invented.

Prior to the appeal hearing, the three judges visited Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s cathedral, the place where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. The visit, which was apparently unprecedented for the Australian legal system, was to help them understand the evidence that was considered by the jury.

John Macaulay, a former altar server for Cardinal Pell who has followed the trials closely, told the Register Friday he was optimistic of an acquittal due to the “strength of Pell’s team” and the poor way the Department of Public Prosecutions tried put forward the alleged victim’s case.

He said Boyce “just floundered” and “literally didn’t want to answer the questions of the three justices precisely because, if he did answer them, he’d be conceding a hell of a lot more ground rather than just looking and sounding bumbling and fumbling as he did.”

Another factor that gave him grounds for optimism was that because Cardinal Pell never took the witness stand, both the jury and the appeal judges have to rely only on the same video testimony of the cardinal being questioned by police in Rome. In the video, the cardinal was widely considered to have denied the allegations convincingly, calling the charges “absolute and disgraceful rubbish” and the “product of fantasy.”

This means the judges are at “no disadvantage” to the jury, Macaulay said, whereas usually the jury has the advantage of seeing the defendant’s appearance and behavior in court which helps them come to a verdict. He believes it is clear that the jurors “felt sympathetic to the accuser, didn’t consider the evidence and rather ignored the evidence to the contrary.”

Macaulay, who said a re-trial was hardly discussed during the appeal, said there was “some speculation Pell would be acquitted end of second day” as it was so “obvious” that there was “no case to answer,” and that the case “should never have been brought before the Victorian legal system.”

Another source who has followed the trial closely but who asked to remain anonymous said members of the legal profession are concerned with how the complainant’s video evidence has been described by media and victim support groups as “compelling and emotional” when they have not seen, and cannot see, the video testimony.

They have described it in such a way that is “purely based on the guilty verdict,” the source said.  “That, however, does not necessarily constitute truthfulness. The question being asked is: Does compelling mean it is beyond reasonable doubt? Not pointing to this case particularly, but people can present a compelling and even schooled appearance, but does that equate to truthfulness?”

The source said “some who did see the video evidence have a very different view” to the way it has been portrayed in the media and victim support groups.

Another issue of concern, the source added, is that victim support groups are saying this appeal is once again a case of victims not being believed and the Church “still doesn’t get it.”

“The trial judge made the point numerous times that media coverage of the Church and child sexual abuse was not on trial,” the source said. “It was one person and specific allegations. However, many have not seen or reported it that way.”

The source said that it has been pointed that Cardinal Pell “has every right under the law to appeal the conviction” and that “does not mean he is saying all victims are not believed. In his case, there is very strong argument to support his position.”

A third source, this one close to Cardinal Pell, shared the following with the Register about the appeal:

It was certainly a couple of intense days for everyone. The cardinal’s legal counsel, Bret Walker, presented his argument on the first day. I think everyone agreed he was forensic, fully across the brief, and presented a very clear, cohesive, and strong case.  At the same time, he answered questions the three judges asked comprehensively.

On the second day the prosecution’s argument was led by Chris Boyce. Everyone, including those who don’t want to see this conviction overturned, said it really wasn’t his best day. He stumbled, struggled to annunciate a coherent argument, and then mentioned the complainant’s name which is suppressed in these cases. That threw him completely. Walker was able to respond and did so very strongly.

Members of Pell’s family were in the court on both days along with friends and supporters. The cardinal looked well and, as is his habit, took notes throughout the proceedings.

His legal team spoke with him before the appeal got underway and said he was keen to get proceedings underway. At the end of the hearing, Cardinal Pell told his lawyers he thought Walker could not have done any better than he did. While he has always maintained his innocence, the outcome now rests with three judges.

It could be 4-6 weeks before that decision is known.

Cardinal Pell celebrates marked his 78th birthday tomorrow. He will not have visitors until Monday but is quite upbeat.

He continues to read, write, exercise and pray. He has received hundreds of letters and cards of support from people here and overseas — many of whom he has never met. He has said he is extremely grateful for these and the many prayers and Masses said for him. He believes this has contributed greatly to his serene approach to his predicament.

When he bowed to the judges upon leaving the courtroom, he must have been saying a prayer for them and their deliberations.

Macaulay believes it will take a couple of weeks for the appeal judges to reach a majority decision. Should Cardinal Pell be acquitted, the Commissioner for Custodial Services will then give instructions to release him. Two weeks later, the appeals court is expected to publish its reasons. Macaulay said, “This should all play out in the month of June.”

 

 

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Neurologist exposes ‘brain death’ myth behind multi-billion-dollar organ transplant industry

ROME, June 5, 2019, LifeSiteNews:

A respected Brazilian neurologist is seeking to blow the lid off the “brain death” myth, saying it is being perpetuated to supply an international multi-billion-dollar transplant industry.

Doctor Cicero G. Coimbra, MD PhD, a neurologist and professor of neuroscience at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, has also said recovery for comatose patients is often possible, but a tightly controlled medical establishment is not giving doctors and medical students the facts they need to “do the best they can” for their patients.

LifeSite sat down with Dr. Coimbra for an in-depth interview in Rome, during a May 20-21 conference on “Brain Death”: A Medicolegal Construct: Scientific & Philosophical Evidence, sponsored by the John Paul Academy for Human Life and Family.

In this interview (read full text below), Dr. Coimbra explains that the term “brain death” was coined in the 1960s, after the first successful human heart transplant “triggered a demand for transplantable vital organs to be harvested from patients” who were considered to be “hopelessly comatose” according to medical knowledge at that time.

There was “no preliminary scientific research” on the brain-death concept before the name was used, he said. But calling these patients “dead” enabled the medical community to overcome all of the legal hurdles associated with removing vital organs from these comatose patients.

Their main mistake, Dr. Coimbra argues, was to consider these patients “irreversibly” brain damaged.

By the 1980s, when organ transplants were performed around the world, medical researchers experimenting on animals discovered that when blood flow to the brain is reduced from the normal range to just 20-50 percent, the brain would “fall silent” — but was neither “dead” nor “irreversibly damaged.” By the end of the 1990s, this phenomenon — called “ischemic penumbra” — was demonstrated in humans, shattering the “brain death” myth.

The brain is silent but not dead, he said.

“Why is the ‘brain death’ theory still so prevalent, and what are students in medical school being taught about this?” LifeSite asked Dr. Coimbra.

The Brazilian neurologist explained that while medical students might hear about this if “information is provided to the general public,” they will not learn it in medical school.

“In medical schools, these concepts that I am telling you about — although they are published — are not available in medical textbooks. They are not available in medical meetings. In medical conferences you cannot find them,” he said, adding that information is being withheld to supply the organ donation industry.

If you speak to doctors one-on-one, they will often tell you they agree, Dr. Coimbra said, but “they don’t want to mess with the transplant system,” which has one of the most “well controlled systems” of information sharing in the world.

“The transplant system is a wealthy system; it is a powerful system,” Dr. Coimbra said. “They are everywhere in the medical community. They are in medical councils and medical academies; they are everywhere … Politically, they are very powerful.”

“In the United States alone, in 2016 the transplant system involved business to the tune of approximately 25 billion dollars,” he noted. “By 2025, it is expected to reach 51 billion dollars per year.”

It is “big business,” he said.

Dr. Coimbra continued:

The brilliant idea of the transplant system was to call what they thought to be irreversible brain damage “brain death.” Because whenever you say someone is against “brain death,” you think: “How can someone possibly be…against death? They don’t believe in death?” But “death” is just a word that was given to a “hopelessly comatose” patient — but they were “hopelessly comatose” at the end of the 60s, not now.

“In a very large number of those patients, they have no damage at all — no brain damage at all — they just have a silent brain,” he added.

To compound the problem, Dr. Coimbra said the standard test used for screening “brain death” — called the “apnea test” — can actually induce irreversible brain damage to an already comatose patient, by reducing the blood and oxygen to the brain for 10 minutes.

Dr. Coimbra said he has seen firsthand that there is hope for patients who have been labeled “brain dead.” If doctors would simply replace three essential (thyroid and adrenal) hormones, “the normal circulation to the brain would be restored,” he explained. But when these hormones are not replaced, the patient progresses “into a disaster.”

The Brazilian neurologist again noted that doctors and medical students are not taught this:

They know what is in the neurology textbook of medicine … They know what’s there, and this is not there.  The importance of replacing thyroid hormone is not discussed in meetings related to brain injuries, and how to treat brain injuries. Not one single intensive care unit in the world replaces thyroid hormones — not a single one that I know of.

To illustrate how much the “brain death” myth has gripped the minds of the medical community, Dr. Coimbra tells the story of a 15-year old girl who began to show signs of brain activity once he administered the necessary hormones. Seeing notes of progress Dr. Coimbra had made in the girl’s medical chart, a doctor on call in the ICU that night wrote: “Once a patient is declared ‘brain dead,’ the patient is dead. It doesn’t matter if later on the patient no longer fulfills the criteria for ‘brain death.’ The patient is legally dead, because it was once diagnosed as ‘brain dead.’”

In the end, Dr. Coimbra said it all comes down to the duty of doctors to honor their sacred oath to “do no harm” and to “do the best they can” for the health and wellbeing of their patient.

Here is our interview with Dr. Cicero Coimbra, MD, PhD, followed by a video of his talk at the recent “brain death” conference in Rome.

*** 

Dr. Coimbra, why is “brain death” a myth?

By the end of the 1960s, the first human heart transplant performed by the surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa triggered a demand for transplantable single vital organs to be harvested from those patients considered to be “hopelessly comatose.” It was the common understanding that, by using all possible techniques and knowledge available at that time, those patients could not be restored to a normal life and would rather eventually evolve to cardiac arrest within a matter of days; they would not recover consciousness. An ad hoc committee at Harvard Medical School decided to call their clinical condition “brain death,” so that they could remove vital organs maintained viable due to sustained heart beating (maintained supply of oxygenated blood) and use those organs to improve the health [of] other people — patients, for instance, who had liver failure, kidney failure, or end-stage heart failure. These people would benefit from having the organs from patients who were “hopelessly comatose.”

Calling these patients “dead” enabled the ad hoc committee to overcome all legal problems related to removing vital organs from comatose patients that could not recover according to the concepts and medical scientific knowledge that we had available by that time, i.e. by the end of the 1960s.

In order to transplant organs, they had to be removed from someone while they are still alive, while the heart is still beating? 

Yes, they removed them from a comatose patient. But they thought it would not be possible to recover those patients, because they did not have the technology and knowledge to recover them.

The main mistake was to consider those patients “irreversibly” brain damaged, but their brain damage was considered irreversible due to the limited knowledge that they had at that time. Later on, as time went by, new knowledge and neurological scientific achievements offered other ideas about what was really going on in these patients. For instance, by the end of the 1960s — when the concept of “brain death” was introduced into medicine — doctors believed that, when there were no signs of brain activity that could be detected by neurological examination, the only possible reason would be the absence of blood circulation in the brain. And because the absence of brain circulation would destroy the brain within minutes, they decided to call it “brain death.”

The problem is that in the 1980s everything started changing. The practice of transplanting vital organs had already spread across the world, but already by 1984 or 1985 experiments carried out in animals — in rodents — demonstrated that when you decrease blood flow to the brain to only 50 percent of the normal range, the brain falls silent. This is because there is not enough energy to sustain what we call “synaptic activity.” Synapsis is the site where one neuron communicates with another neuron. Synaptic activity, which is the release of neurotransmission at the synaptic site, was no longer possible in these brains, because the brain blood flow was 50 percent of the normal range, and that would not provide enough energy for synaptic activity, for neurons to communicate with one another. So, the brain was silent, but the neurons would not die just because the blood flow was reduced to 50 percent.

So, the brain was silent but not dead…

Yes, silent but no neuronal death — no “brain death.” Necrosis, i.e. the process of neuronal death, is a process that takes several hours and is triggered when the blood flow is lower than 20 percent of the normal range.

This interval (approximately between 20 percent and 50 percent of the normal level of circulation) is now known as the “penumbra zone.” It was initially described in situations where there is an obstructed artery that supplies part of the brain. In the peripheral area of this so-called “ischemic” part of the brain, there was a collateral flow of blood supply between 20 and 50 percent of the normal flow, as demonstrated in animals. If you could recirculate that artery, you would save the peripheral area because it was only silent. It was not necrotic; it was not destroyed.

It is quite clear that when you have a patient with head trauma, and the brain is swelling, at some point the arteries that supply blood to the brain start being compressed, because the brain size is increasing within the intracranial space. The intracranial space is protected by bones, and bones cannot expand to accommodate the increase in brain volume. So, if the size of the brain increases as a result of what we know as “brain edema” or “brain swelling,” then the vessels are progressively compressed, and the blood flow to the whole brain decreases proportionally to increases in intracranial pressure. At some point, you will reach the level of a 50 percent decrease as compared to normal range. At this point the whole brain is silent — not a part of it but all of it is silent — but it is still recoverable. It is not dead; it is alive. And that situation was unknown at the end of the 1960s, when the concept of “brain death” was introduced into medicine.

So, it is clear that some of those patients are actually alive. What do I mean by alive? The brain was not destroyed; it was only silent. And the transplantation system has been taking organs from patients who had brain tissue that theoretically could be recovered. That brain tissue is not destroyed.

To me, it was quite clear by the end of the 1990s when the phenomenon of “ischemic penumbra” — a silent brain but no brain destruction — was demonstrated in humans, not only in rodents, that this situation could be called “global ischemic penumbra.”

The problem is that one of the tests used to diagnose “brain death” — called the “apnea test” — involves switching off the respirator. You disconnect the respirator for 10 minutes. When you do that, the high level of carbon dioxide increases sharply. This in turn further increases intracranial pressure and may decrease arterial pressure. So, you increase the compression on the brain vessels and you decrease the pressure within the brain vessels during the apnea test.

What was the purpose of the apnea test? 

The aim of the apnea test is to demonstrate that the patient cannot breathe on his own.

In any culture in the world, it would be unacceptable to say that someone who is breathing is dead. Spontaneous breathing in any culture means life. So, for instance, when a baby is born, and it never breathes, you say that it was born dead. But if the lungs expanded at least once, for legal purposes, even if the baby immediately dies, you say that the baby is alive. The question of whether the baby is alive or dead when the baby is born has considerable legal consequences. No one in any culture of the world — Indian culture or Western culture, etc. — would accept anyone to be dead if that person is capable of breathing on his own. So, the purpose of the apnea test is to demonstrate that the patient cannot breathe on his own and can be regarded as dead.

But imagine for a moment: the respirator is disconnected from the lungs for 10 minutes. In order to breathe on your own, you need your respiratory centers in your brain to be working. They control the diaphragm and the respiratory muscles in general. If you switch off the respirator, and there is no breathing for 10 minutes, they say: “Ok, you see, this is one more piece of evidence that the patient is dead, because he cannot breathe on his own.” The apnea test is considered the fundamental test to diagnose “brain death.” No medical doctor anywhere in the world would diagnose “brain death” without doing this test. So, whenever you hear that a certain patient has been diagnosed as “brain dead,” you know that the apnea test has been performed.

Why isn’t the apnea test legitimate?

It’s not legitimate. Actually, it disrupts the most basic concepts of medicine. For instance, imagine if I prevent you from breathing for 10 minutes, what will happen? You will die.

But in this case, a respirator is helping the person to breathe.

Yes, right. The respirator is helping the person to breathe. You’re correct, no problem about that. The issue is: you are testing the vitality of the respiratory centers. But what will happen to the respiratory centers in a silent brain if you induce a test that decreases the blood flow to the respiratory centers? The respiratory centers were already silent, because they need synaptic function to work. If the blood flow is within the penumbra zone — between 20 and 50 percent — the respiratory centers cannot work, not because they are irreversibly damaged but because they are silent. You would not diagnose this as “brain death.” You will not differentiate the condition of global ischemic penumbra from irreversible brain damage by testing the respiratory function.

You can actually destroy the respiratory centers — as you can damage all parts of the brain — by further reducing the blood flow during the apnea test. Forty percent of the patients who are submitted to the apnea test have a major drop in their blood flow, in their blood pressure. Blood pressure is the pressure that is within the arteries; it’s the pressure that provides the driving force to maintain circulation in the brain. So, when you perform the apnea test, you may actually induce irreversible damage to the brain when you were only supposed to diagnose irreversible brain damage.

That would seem to go against the Hippocratic oath? You are harming the patient in order to apparently test whether a silent brain is dead.

The silent brain is not dead. You induce irreversible damage to the respiratory centers and to the whole brain just by performing the apnea test. So, as you said, they are not respecting the Hippocratic oath, because the most basic concept of medical practice is what you just said: First, “do no harm.” And the second is, “do the best you can.” So, neither of these basic concepts of the Hippocratic oath are being respected in this situation.

If this research has been done in humans as well as in rodents, why is the “brain death” theory still prevalent? And what are students in medical school being taught about this? Would they hear about this latest research?

Well they may hear about it, if you provide information to the general public as you were trying to do. But in medical schools these concepts that I am telling you about — although they are published — are not available in medical textbooks. They are not available in medical meetings. In medical conferences you cannot find them.

Nowadays the transmission of information within the medical community in general — not only in this country or that, but worldwide — is probably, or certainly, the most well controlled system of transmitting information, because it is worth billions of dollars per year. If you put information in a textbook, it can redirect the flow of money from one sector to another. It’s the most well controlled type of transmitting information in our society that I know of.

Are you saying that, for the sake of the organ donation and organ transplant industry, the general public and medical students are not being given this information?

Yes, I have been trying to talk to the neurological community in my country and in other countries, and the reaction that we see is that some [doctors] will tell you — “Okay, I understand what you are saying, but never tell anyone that I agree with you”  — because they don’t want to mess with the transplant system. The transplant system is a wealthy system; it is a powerful system. They are everywhere in the medical community. They are in medical councils and medical academies; they are everywhere. They are very powerful. Politically, they are very powerful.

What could happen to a doctor if he tried to go against the system?

Well, maybe what happened to me. I had to fight in court to hold on to my license to work as a doctor for 19 years in Brazil. And that was a long time. So, you understand why some doctors that are aware of what is happening do not want to talk freely about that. They simply do not want to mess with powerful people.

They even control and have an influence in the press. Sometimes it is said, “Oh that doctor is against ‘brain death.’” The brilliant idea of the transplant system was to call what they thought to be irreversible brain damage “brain death.” Because whenever you say someone is against “brain death,” you think: “How can someone possibly be against death? They don’t believe in death?” But “death” is just a word that was given to a “hopelessly comatose” patient — but they were “hopelessly comatose” at the end of the 60s, not now.

Now you can understand that, in a very large number of those patients, they have no damage at all — no brain damage at all — they just have a silent brain. And that was confirmed in the middle of the 70s. In the mid 70s, some people from histopathology or pathologist[s] started wondering how a doctor since 1968 (when “brain death” was introduced into medicine) can say that there is necrosis of the whole brain — that there is irreversible damage of the cells in the whole brain, just by doing a neurological examination? Pathologists started wondering what is happening here. They wondered: “How can they possibly use a term like ‘necrosis,’ which is the terminology that only pathologists use when they look at the tissue under the microscope.”

So, they started checking into this. They did histological examinations in patients who were diagnosed as “brain dead” for 48 hours — so time enough for full necrosis to occur. No signs of brain activity, no evidence of blood flow for 48 hours. The whole brain should be necrotic; it’s time enough for full necrosis. When they examined those brains — I think the article was published by 1976 — they saw that about 60 percent of those brains had no signs of necrosis at all.

People who were in favor of “brain death” had to defend themselves when these papers were published. They said, “Okay, necrosis in those cases is indicated by such tiny signs that you cannot see it in the microscope. That’s why you cannot see it, but we know it’s there. We know, because there is no possible explanation for absence of blood flow for 48 hours.” Again, when more and more evidence was available to demonstrate that what they had thought in 1968 — which was complete absence of blood flow — was not true, they tried to say something else or invent something else in order to explain it — even as a hypothesis.

You saw that in this conference [on “Brain Death”: A Medicolegal Construct: Scientific & Philosophical Evidence] — it was said several times — that when the practice of “brain death” was introduced into medicine, there were no scientific papers to support it, no scientific research. It was simply a concept: “Ok, we believe that those patients have no blood flow, because they have such a severe edema that the blood vessels are completely compressed. There’s no blood flow. There is no way that the brain could survive after a few hours under no blood flow. So, we will call it ‘brain death’ because that’s what we believe is going on.”

But as I told you, and as you heard from several speakers, there was no preliminary scientific research on the concept of “brain death” to support the concept of “brain death.”

While they claimed that the brain was “dead,” what was going on in the body? The heart is still beating…

Yes, because if it’s not beating you cannot use vital organs. If there is an arrest in circulation, you have damaged organs that you’re trying to transplant to other people.

Dr. Coimbra, when people hear “brain death,” they think the brain is dead. But as you have explained, the brain is actually silent. When the brain is silent, what is the state of the other organs and systems in the body?

This is a very important question, because one of the parts of the brain that is possibly within the range of ischemic penumbra, between 20 percent and 50 percent of the normal levels of circulation, is the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus produces several hormones that control other glands in our body. And there are at least three hormones that are very important to our discussion. Because the hypothalamus is also under low levels of circulation, the production of those hormones is decreased.

For instance, one of these hormones is the hormone that releases TSH from the pituitary gland. TSH is “thyroid stimulating hormone.” So, you have the hypothalamus producing TSH-releasing hormone. TSH-releasing hormone induces the production of TSH by the hypophysis [pituitary gland].  The hypophysis releases TSH into the circulation, and then the thyroid gland located in our neck keeps producing thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormones have an action in the brain. They have actions in all of our organs. One of the most important actions is to prevent fluid from leaking into the tissues. So, when you have a patient who has had a brain trauma, for instance, and that trauma has increased the volume of the brain, and now the blood vessels are compressed, the blood vessels that supply blood to the hypothalamus are also compressed. And then you get into a state that is called “Central hypothyroidism.” In this state, the thyroid gland decreases the production of thyroid hormones, because the thyroid gland is not receiving enough stimulation from the brain.

So, the lack of thyroid hormones increases brain damage and brain edema, i.e. brain swelling. This is a critical situation, which I could put this way: if you don’t replace thyroid hormone the brain tissue will die, because the brain swelling will progress, progress, and progress up to the point that the blood vessels are fully compressed, and you have no blood flow at all. Then you have irreversible damage to the brain. But when the blood supply to the brain is within the range of “ischemic penumbra” (a silent but not irreversibly damaged brain) or progressing to that situation (progressing into deeper levels of coma – with reduced, but not absent neurological signs of brain activity) you can rescue the brain, just by giving three hormones.

One of the most important ones is the thyroid hormones. If you give the comatose patient thyroid hormones, you will prevent further leakage of liquids from the intravascular space (the space within blood vessels) into the brain tissue. The progress of brain swelling will stop and reverse, the brain vessels will no longer be compressed, you will increase the blood supply to the brain and the patient will start recovering brain functions.

But this situation starts long before the beginning of [the] screening test for “brain death.” We have a scale to measure the level of coma. It’s called the “Glasgow Coma Scale.” A normal person who is fully awake is at level 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. When there are no signs of brain activity, you are at level 3. When you reach level 3, you start screening the patient for the diagnosis of “brain death.”

But when the Glasgow Coma Scale is far away from 3 — when it is around 8 or 7 — most if not all patients have low circulating levels of thyroid hormone. By that point the brain edema is now turned into the so-called “brain myxedema,” because the edema is now caused by a lack of enough amounts of thyroid hormones. Therefore, if you start replacing thyroid hormones when a patient of a traumatic brain injury is at the Glasgow levels of 8 or 7 — the patient’s neurological state can improve and even all neurological functions can be normalized. And this is an obligation, this is not something that you say, “Okay, I will leave it like that.” No, you see that something is wrong, and you can save the life of a patient. Hypothyroidism is a lethal disorder; if you don’t treat it patients will die.

It goes back to what you said about the Hippocratic oath. The most basic part is “do not harm” to your patients. But the second part is “do the best you can” to save the life of your patients, to improve their health, to improve the wellbeing of your patient.

So “do your best” and now you’re not following the second aspect of the Hippocratic oath. You should replace thyroid hormones in order to prevent so-called “brain death.”

And is this generally done? Are these three hormones generally given?

No, it’s not done anywhere.

Why not?

This is a question that the medical community should answer. Why are they not following the second principle of the Hippocratic oath in this situation? It’s been published since the 80s.

So they know … it’s not as though the doctors who are dealing with these patients don’t understand what happens to the thyroid …

When you say they “know,” I have to say that it’s published, but I would not say that the doctors “know” because they don’t know everything that is published. They know what is in the neurology textbook of medicine, like the neurology textbook. They know what’s there, and this is not there.  The importance of replacing thyroid hormone is not discussed in meetings related to brain injuries, and how to treat brain injuries. Not one single intensive care unit in the world replaces thyroid hormones — not a single one that I know of. Because, you know, if you would replace thyroid hormones when the Glasgow Coma Scale is at 7 or 8, probably almost no patient would progress into so-called “brain death.” So, it’s not done — it’s simply not done.

What happens to the brain when these thyroid hormones are not given to the patient?

As the brain swells because thyroid hormones are not replaced, the hypothalamus stops or decreases the production of other hormones that are very important for the survival of the comatose patient.

One of the most important ones is the so-called ACTH. ACTH is a hormone that is produced under the stimulation of the hypothalamus. It is produced by the hypophysis [pituitary gland], and it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce hormones that keep your blood pressure within the normal range.

If you can compose the whole situation in your mind: you have a decreased level of thyroid hormones — that’s why the brain is swelling, that’s why the blood flow is decreased: because blood vessels are being compressed in the intracranial space. The patient is evolving to the so-called…“brain death.” And now, the pressure within the vessels that is necessary to supply blood flow to the brain is also decreasing, because the adrenal glands are not providing enough amounts of what we call “mineralocorticoids” to stabilize the blood pressure. So, the blood pressure within the vessel is going down — the pressure which is necessary to supply blood flow to the brain.

So, you have these two circumstances that co-operate to damage the brain: you have increased intracranial pressure because of lack of thyroid hormones, and you have decreased blood pressure because of low levels of adrenal hormones. And again, because those adrenal hormones are not replaced, the patient – the whole organism — is progressing into a disaster.

You said that three hormones should be given. What is the third? 

There is a third hormone that should be given to those patients and it’s also produced by the hypothalamus and the hypophysis. It is called ADH, which stands for “antidiuretic hormone.” It prevents your kidneys from releasing large amounts of fluid that would further decrease the volume within your vessels. The further decrease in pressure within the blood vessels comes from the fact that you don’t have enough volume within your circulatory system to sustain circulation.

This third hormone is the only one that is sometimes given to those patients, because it’s impossible not to identify this situation. If you want to identify the situation when thyroid hormones are low, you have to measure them. If you want to identify a situation where adrenal gland hormones are low, you have to measure them. But you know whether the patient is producing low levels of ADH, you know it because he (she) is eliminating a lot of urine — 6 liters, 8 liters, or even 10 liters of urine every day.

The lack of these three hormones will lead the organism into a disaster. And they are not replaced. Because what should be done is not being done, this patient will die within a few days. Nearly these patients will die within a few days due to cardiac arrest. But that’s because you are not considering part of the second Hippocratic oath, which is: you should do the best you can to save the life of your patient. You’re not replacing thyroid hormones; you’re not replacing adrenal hormones; you’re sometimes not replacing ADH, so those patients will die in a few days.

How do those who support “brain death” defend this?

Believe it or not, people who are in favor of “brain death” say it doesn’t matter what you do. The say that, even with the most aggressive intensive care treatment, these patients will die within a few days, so it’s a good idea to take their organs to save the lives of other people. But, actually, those patients have not been treated as they should. The most basic treatment, that is, replacing of all these three hormones, is not done, so the patient will die.

Hypothyroidism is known by the medical community to be a lethal disorder if it’s left untreated. Adrenal failure, which I just described, is also known to be a lethal disorder if it’s left untreated. And the same is true for diabetes insipidus, which is due to the lack of ADH. So, you have three lethal disorders in the same patient, and you don’t treat them. Instead, you say: “Those patients will die even if you give them the most aggressive intensive care treatment.” It’s not true. You don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know the pathophysiology of what is happening with this patient.

Medical doctors are not taught to give thyroid hormones or adrenal hormones; sometimes they are not even taught to give ADH. Doctors sometimes say this is happening “because the brain is dying.” But, actually, the brain is dying because they not replacing those thyroid hormones. If doctors would replace these three types of hormones, the normal circulation to the brain would be restored and the hypothalamus will restart producing normal amounts of all those hormones.

Have you treated patients who have recovered from severe brain trauma through the use of these hormones?

Yes, I treated a 39-year-old woman who was declared “brain dead”… It was a surgical accident that caused the damage to the brain, and I started the replacement of these hormones four days after the event. I have to tell you that it should have started beforehand, not four days later. But she was already diagnosed as “brain dead” and the family had been told. So, we started replacing the thyroid hormones at day four. Eight days after the beginning of the replacement of thyroid hormones and the other hormones, the patient started to breathe on her own. Therefore, the patient could no longer be recognized as someone who is dead, because she was breathing. As I said before, the ability to breathe on one’s own is a sign of life in any culture of the world, so that patient was alive.

One month later, she was able to communicate with her parents. Because she had a tracheostomy she had to communicate by lip reading. She would only move her lips, because there wasn’t sufficient air to vibrate the vocal cords. There was no sound, but she could communicate by lip reading and that continued for two or three months.

Unfortunately, she died because she was in bed too long and she had clot formations within the veins of her legs and the clots moved to her lungs. She died because of pulmonary embolism.

But she was able to communicate with her parents before she died.

Yes, for two or three months she could communicate with them…

Which is all the difference for the family…the fact that the parents were able to communicate with their daughter.

Her brain was functional. Of course, she had some severe neurological problems related to movement. Her movements were severely restricted. But we did not know what would have happened in the next few months, if she would start moving her arms and legs or not. Unfortunately, she had this clinical complication and died because of that.

Since you asked, it is important to say that, before this lady, I treated a 15-year-old girl. I started the treatment one month after the accident. She had already been submitted to three apnea tests. She breathed in the first and the second, but not in the third. They were done on consecutive days, so each of the tests were an additional aggression to the patient, to the brain circulation, and finally she could not resist the third. She was in a deep coma with no respiratory reflexes.

That patient was not in the same city where I worked, and the family moved from another state in Brazil to the state of São Paulo. I started the replacement of the thyroid hormones too late, but at some point, about two weeks later, under thyroid hormone replacement and the replacement of other hormones, that patient was having seizures, convulsions, on the right side.

But a person who is “brain dead” doesn’t have brain seizures, do they?

No, a dead brain cannot have a seizure. That’s what I wrote on the patient’s chart.

The doctor on call that night in the ICU was someone involved in a transplant system. And he wrote something [in the chart] like: “once a patient is declared ‘brain dead,’ the patient is dead. It doesn’t matter if later on the patient no longer fulfills the criteria for ‘brain death.’ The patient is legally dead, because it was once diagnosed as ‘brain dead.’”

I can prove this. I have a copy of the patient’s chart. So, you see the conflict of interest here. In the United States alone, in 2016 the transplant system involved business to the tune of approximately 25 billion dollars. By 2025, it is expected to reach 51 billion dollars per year.

On the internet, you can find announcements suggesting that you should buy shares from those pharmaceutical companies, because they will be increasing profits and you can earn a lot of money by buying their shares. So, this is big, big business. You can see how powerful these people are.

Imagine that you knew a very well-known, prestigious transplant surgeon, who has been performing vital organ transplants for 30 years. He is very skillful surgeon, possibly world-renowned. And then you come to him and say that “brain death” is not death anymore, because now we know much more than we knew in 1968, when brain that was introduced into medicine.

Imagine that you tell him he should stop doing vital organ transplants. He has been doing them for 30 years, and he is very skillful, perhaps a world-renowned doctor. Do suppose that he will accept that peacefully? It’s difficult. After 30 years, all the prestige that has accumulated and then you tell him he should look for another way of making money — another specialty because transplants are no longer possible.

It seems it goes back to the Hippocratic oath. A doctor makes a vow when he becomes doctor. It is a sacred vow.  

Yes, definitely.

***

See below the complete 41-minute talk by Dr. Coimbra given May 20, 2019 at the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family Conference in Rome.

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Prosecution falters during Cardinal Pell appeal hearing

Cardinal George Pell was brought to the hearing from prison in a police van
(Getty Images)

The lead prosecutor arguing to sustain the conviction of Cardinal George Pell struggled Thursday in presenting the Crown’s case. Christopher Boyce struggled to answer questions from the three-judge appeal court, accidentally naming the alleged victim on a live stream of proceedings.

Following the conviction of Pell on five counts of sexual abuse of minors last December, judges at the Supreme Court of Victoria have been hearing an appeal against the jury’s unanimous decision. After extensive arguments from the defense on June 5, the prosecution put its case in favor of the decision Thursday.

The prosecution’s case against the appeal centers on upholding the sole witness and alleged victim in the case whom, Boyce insisted, was not a “liar” or a “fantasist,” while conceding that the witness had changed the dates and years of the alleged attacks over the course of the case and no longer agreed with the prosecution’s own assertions.

Boyce repeatedly found himself either struggling to articulate his own argument, or lost for words under judicial questioning, at one point conceding that “It’s not good enough for me to say what I said before,” and that “rehearsing the platitudes may not be all that helpful.”

Read on at The Catholic Herald

 An account of the two-day hearing from the Catholic Register

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The Hill of the Angels: Monument of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

One of the most famous images of the anti-Catholic persecution unleashed by the republican side in the Spanish Civil War: Red militiamen shoot their rifles against the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cerro de los Ángeles on July 28, 1936. The militiamen themselves took the photo of their “feat”.

Last weekend I was very blessed to have been able to visit on pilgrimage one of the most (perhaps the most) significant sites of Spain’s recent history, the Cerro de los Angeles (Hill of the Angels) where a large towering statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an almost exact replica of the one pictured above that was destroyed by the Reds during the Spanish Civil War, stretches His arms wide to embrace the world to His Most Sacred, Loving Heart. A great Love beyond our wildest imaginings; a Love so often rejected and despised by ungrateful men, yet patient and forgiving towards those who repent and turn from their wicked ways.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of this impressive Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cerro de los Ángeles de Getafe (Madrid), a ceremony presided over by the then King of Spain Alfonso XIII, and the king’s passionate words in the Consecration of Spain to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

King Alfonso XIII reading the words with which he consecrated Spain to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during the inauguration ceremony of the Cerro de los Ángeles monument on May 30, 1919.

The consecration of Spain to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The choice of that place for the monument – the work of the architect Carlos Maura Nadal and the sculptor Aniceto Marinas y García- was not accidental, since the Cerro de los Ángeles (Hill of the Angels) has historically been considered the geographical centre of Spain.

The numerous public dedicated an ovation to the Kings on their arrival at the Hill, giving cries in favour to Their Majesties, to Spain and to the Sacred Heart. In a moment of the celebration, the King “descended from the rostrum, followed by the entire Royal Family, and then climbed only to the pedestal where the altar was placed,” the Abc recounted. There he pronounced the following words:

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, Heart of God Man, Redeemer of the world, King of Kings and Lord of those who reign:
Spain, people of your inheritance and your predilections, prostrates today reverent before this throne of your kindness that stands for you in the centre of the Peninsula. All the races that inhabit it, all the regions that integrate it, have constituted in the succession of the centuries and through common azares and mutual loyalties this great Spanish Homeland, strong and constant in the love of the Catholic Religion and in its adherence to the Monarchy.
Feeling the Catholic tradition of the Spanish royalty and continuing joyfully the history of their faith and devotion to your Divine Person, we confess that you came to earth to establish the kingdom of God in the peace of the souls redeemed by your blood and in the happiness of the peoples who are governed by your holy Law: we recognize that you have as a coat of arms of your divinity to grant participation of your Power to the princes of the earth and that from You receive efficacy and sanction all the just laws in whose fulfillment the empire lies of order and peace. You are the sure path that leads to the possession of eternal life: inexhaustible light that enlightens the understandings so that they know the truth and propelling principle of all life and of all legitimate social progress, establishing themselves in You and in the might and softness of your grace all the virtues and heroisms that elevate and beautify the soul.
Come, then, to us your Most Holy Kingdom, which is a kingdom of justice and love. Reign in the hearts of men, in the bosom of homes, in the intelligence of the wise, in the classrooms of science and letters and in our laws and institutions of our country.
Thank you, Lord, for having mercifully delivered us from the common misfortune of war, which so many people have bled to death: continue with us the work of your loving providence.
From these heights that for you we have chosen as a symbol of the desire that encourages us to preside over all our enterprises, bless the poor, the workers, the proletarians all so that in the peaceful harmony of all social classes they will find justice and charity that makes his life smoother, his work more bearable. Bless the Army and the Navy, armed arms of the Nation, so that in the loyalty of their discipline and in the value of their arms they are always the nation’s safeguard and the defense of the right. Bless all those gathered here in the cordiality of the same holy loves of Religion and of the Fatherland, we wish to consecrate our lives to you as a reward for her to die in the security of your love and in the precious bosom of your adorable Heart. So be it.”

With those words, King Alfonso XIII consecrated Spain to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A few years later, the Nation would undergo one of its cruellest moments in history.

The martyrs of Cerro de los Ángeles and the destruction of the monument

On Saturday, July 18, 1936, the Spanish Civil War broke out. That same day, 30 members of the Workers’ Companies of San José and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus went to Cerro de los Ángeles for a vigil of nocturnal adoration. At the end of the Mass, at dawn, most of the congregants returned to Madrid, except for five:

  • Pedro-Justo Dorado Dellmans, 31 years old.
  • Fidel Barrios Muñoz, 21 years old.
  • Elías Requejo Sorondo, 19 years old.
  • Blas Ciarreta Ibarrondo, 40 years old.
  • Vicente de Pablo García, 19 years old.

The five stayed in the Cerro to protect the monument. The inhabitants of a nearby farm reported them when they saw them praying the Rosary and blessing the table before eating. On July 23, they were killed by Red militiamen. At the time of their murder, the five looked at the monument, and their last breath was to shout a “Viva Cristo Rey” (Long live Christ the King!), before their bodies collapsed on the floor of Cerro, where they were abandoned for a whole day. Today the remains of those five martyrs rest inside the church located under the new monument.

A vicious civil war was being unleashed in Spain which left a sad trail of blood of thousands of martyrs for the Faith, and the destruction of this monument together with the desecration and total destruction of numerous beautiful Catholic churches and shrines all over the country where the Reds had their stronghold, relics and religious works of art.

Here at the site of the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the communist/anarchist militia attempted to shoot and deface the large statue, only to find their bullets simply ricocheted off the hard stone. They eventually decided to use a large quantity ofdynamite which broke the tall monument up into pieces. Yet the Sacred Heart stone alone fell but remained undamaged! Many saw this inexplicable event as miraculous. This large stone can be seen at the entrance to the site today, although an identical replica of the figure and heart of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was made and now once again stands, arms outstretched, atop a new tall pillar at the Hill of Angels. Thousands of pilgrims and visitors from Spain and abroad are flocking to the Hill of Angels in this centenary year of Spain’s Consecration to the Sacred Heart to show their love for the immense Love poured out to men by our Lord and Saviour.

Here is a video from 2009 on the 90th anniversary with old footage of the original Consecration:

The names of the 50 children killed by communists in the Paracuellos massacre
The more than 100 million deaths that communism caused, divided by countries

 

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A Christian’s guide to modesty in the hot summer months

Professor Kwasniewski at LifeSiteNews:

Each year as we enter the warm summer months, the problem of modesty in dress arises—ever more acutely, it seems, as Western people lose even the minimal moral bearings and social customs that once guaranteed a modicum of self-respect and consideration for others. We need nothing less than a moral revolution, a rebuilding of our most basic concepts of virtue. This will be difficult, needless to say, and we may not be able to turn the tide of the general culture, more correctly described at this point as an anti-culture. Yet it is by no means impossible to rebuild these concepts within Christian communities, if only there is a courageous willingness to address the issues at stake, with clarity and calmness. I shall attempt an overview in this week’s pair of articles.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the notion of “modesty” in dress, speech, or behavior is derived from the notion of moderation, of doing something in a fitting, well-considered manner that observes a mean between extremes. In this instance, the extremes are shamelessness (far more common today) and prudery or unhealthy inhibition.

Like all moral virtues, the habit of modesty not only gives an aptitude for wanting and choosing what is right in this regard, but it urges us to do so; it becomes a second nature, an energetic disposition. Thomas would remind us, too, that modesty helps us to appreciate bodily goods in their rightful place. When person, place, and time call for it, concupiscible passions are good, instruments of virtuous action intended by God.

The modest person is one whose actions and appearance consistently reflect self-mastery, good judgment of what is appropriate, a firm command over feelings, a serene ability to express and to “be” oneself without self-advertisement. Hence, true modesty begins in the soul and only later catches the eye’s or ear’s notice. This inward modesty consists in regulating one’s entire life in a manner that is calm, gentle, reverent, and pure. Putting on modest clothing or avoiding immodest dancing is something that “spills over” from that interior condition.

Modern Western societies have discarded the modesty most required for the basic health of society: dressing and comporting oneself in a manner that will not excite the wrong kind of attention from the opposite sex—an animalistic, possessive, reductive attention. Indeed, as is obvious, the opposite vice is flaunted.

Sadly, many sincere Christians who want to lead a chaste life seem to be unaware of the link between purity of heart and modesty in appearance, between commitment to virtue and the way the body is presented to others—an ignorance all the more surprising in that the connection is rather obvious and, in consequence, has been clearly understood in every age other than ours.

There are, for example, young Catholics who try to be pure but who continue to dress as their secular peers do, in provocative or inappropriate styles of clothing. One sees this vividly at World Youth Days, where, in addition to immodesty, an astonishing lack of awareness of what is appropriate for a sacred and solemn event is all too common.

Modern-day people seem to have adopted one criterion alone: physical comfort. Anything that could cause the remotest discomfort or inconvenience is rejected out of hand. As a result, when dressing in hot weather, Christians all too often fall into the bad habits of their secular peers who do not think about what would please God or help oneself and others to remain chaste, but only about what is coolest or easiest. As a small part of sound asceticism, Christians ought to reject this sort of pampering of and pandering to the body. St. Paul describes the believer as one who is “always carrying in [his] body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10).

Who has not been struck by old black and white photographs of pioneer settlers who, in the midst of sweltering summer heat, wore all-covering, full-length outfits? I don’t suggest we return to the same wardrobe, but I do say that we would do well to heed their witness of propriety and stamina. Obviously, circumstances of hot weather and activities such as long outdoor hikes have to be taken into account, but there are modest and immodest solutions to any situation. With our modern materials, dressing modestly need not mean dressing oppressively; for example, dresses of cool, lightweight, opaque material are available that cover the shoulders and come down to the ankles.

We cannot pretend that how we treat ourselves bodily, how we eat and dress and look and move, whether we do so with restraint or abandon, with polite regard or thoughtlessness, with responsibility or naïveté, are spiritually irrelevant “fine points.” On the contrary, they are essential. They, too, will either manifest the life of Jesus to the world, or promote a contrary spirit. How someone treats, displays, and makes use of the body reveals much about the workings of the soul: who one thinks he (or she) is, what one thinks about oneself and others, what one wants from oneself or others. In more ways than people realize, looks are not deceiving: the medium is the message.

As with every topic of importance, divine revelation is not lacking guidelines. “I desire then … that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion” (1 Tim 2:8–10). There is a way of behaving and appearing which is inseparable from the Christian way of life; it is one of the marks of the believer in the world. Modesty, like peacefulness, though primarily a good of the soul, does not stop at the soul, but has an effect on all aspects of social life. The modern world needs models of self-control and dignified self-presentation; Christians can and must set the example. The very absence of excess is worthy of making its presence known.

The virtue of religion, whereby we give back to the infinite God what we are able to give, includes the offering up to Him of our persons, our bodies and souls, in faithful love. This is why modesty is both a consequence and a safeguard of religion.

St. Thomas says that holiness denotes two things: being clean and being firm.“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God”: blessed are they who firmly preserve their purity of soul and body, for the sake of loving God with their whole being. The sight of God, the great goal and joy of Christian life, is the ultimate reason we must keep our hearts, our words, our movements and appearance, pure, undefiled, simple, restrained. In so doing, our way of life is conformed to that of our Lord Jesus Christ, and makes present in a fallen, soiled world something of the bright innocence, the serene peace, the incorruptible freshness of the Holy Spirit.

See also: Was a priest banned by Twitter for reminding women to cover up modestly at Mass?

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