Homily 3rd Sunday Yr. B (1/22/12): Roe v. Wade/Pro-Life

Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Horton Hears a Who. It’s about an elephant named Horton who encounters very small creatures called “Whos”; he can’t see them because they’re so small, but he can hear them. The other elephants at first are unwilling to believe in these little people, and Horton tries to convince them that even though you can’t see them, Whos are people too. In the story, Horton keeps repeating a phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade decision ruled that we can kill human beings throughout the full nine months of pregnancy – as long as they’re small and hidden from our sight, in their mother’s wombs.

In Roe v. Wade Supreme Court called the child within the womb “potential life.” This is a contradiction in terms: either the child developing in the womb is alive or it is not alive; and the fact is, we know that it is alive; and we also know what kind of life it is: that it is human life.

In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court overturned 2400 years of medical ethics, hundreds of years of legal precedent, and the laws of every state in this country, as well as the Natural Law of God and the Fifth Commandment’s admonition: “Thou shalt not kill.

The Court ruled that women have the constitutional right to kill their unborn children throughout the full nine months of their pregnancy. And more recently, the Supreme Court ruled that this so-called “right” has been extended to include babies who are partially born.

2400 years ago a famous medical doctor in Greecenamed Hippocrates formulated what is now called the Hippocratic oath: doctors, to be emitted to practice medicine, had to swear an oath that they would refuse to abort an unborn child. You see, the desire to have the pleasure of sex without the responsibility of children is as old as the human race, and doctors have always been pressured to perform abortions for “inconvenient” children who are conceived. Sadly, after the Roe v. Wade decision, most medical schools eliminated the Hippocratic oath.

Roe v. Wade overturned hundreds of years of legal precedent. While the Catholic Church always condemned abortion, laws in some countries, likeEngland and theU.S., did not regard abortion in the early stages of pregnancy to be a serious crime a few hundred years ago.

In the 1800s, science and the law worked together. In the 1850s, with the invention of more powerful microscopes which allowed doctors to see that human life begins at conception, doctors discarded the view that human life began at “quickening” – i.e., when the mother could feel the unborn child moving her womb.

In 1859, the American Medical Association presented these findings to the states, all of which passed laws outlawing abortion from the moment of conception. These laws were on the books for 100 years – until the 1960s, when a few states began to change their laws and allow abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. Why? The so-called sexual revolution was taking place; i.e., the desire to have the pleasure of sex without the responsibility of children. As our society grew more promiscuous, lawmakers were pressured to allow abortion for “inconvenient” children who were conceived – the solution to “problem pregnancies” being the “final solution.”

On January 22, 1973Supreme Court ruled that the unborn child, while it may be a human being, is not a “person” so as to deserve protection under the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution which says, “No person may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” This is a purely mental distinction with no basis in reality. If I hold up a picture or a model of an unborn child and ask children “What is this?” they always say “A baby.”

Roe v. Wade was not the first time the Supreme Court ruled that a certain class of human beings are not persons. In the 1857 Dred Scott decision the Supreme Court ruled that blacks were not “persons” and had no right to liberty; that they could be enslaved.

Roe v. Wade is worse because it holds that unborn children have no right to life and can be legally murdered.

In 1992, there was another landmark Supreme Court abortion decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Supreme Court had twenty years of new medical research to consider, which proved more strongly than ever that human life begins at conception.

Consider for example this statement from Dr. Hymie Gordon, a doctor from the Mayo Clinic, when he testified before the U.S. Senate on the Human Life Bill in 1981: “We can now say the question of the beginning of life is no longer a question for theological or philosophical disputes; it is an established scientific fact that all life, including human life, begins at the moment of conception.”

The truth is that all life develops in a continuum, beginning at conception. The science of embryology, and embryology textbooks, have taught this for over 100 years.

Now, I’ll read another statement that’s become rather famous: “At the heart of human liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Can you guess who said this? Dr. Timothy Leary on an LSD trip? Jean-Paul Sartre or some other famous existentialist? No, the Supreme Court said this in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, giving a purported reason to justify the continuation of legalized murder in theUnited States, in the face of all the scientific evidence which proves that human life begins at conception.

In other words, we’ll ignore the facts and create our own concept of existence, of the meaning of human life and when it begins. How convenient! The result is that over the past thirty-nine years over 50 million children have been murdered within their mother’s wombs – between one third and one fourth of all pregnancies in this country.

This brings us to our readings for this Sunday. In our first reading, we see that God was going to destroy Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, for the sins of its people; and he would have destroyed them had not a repented at the warning from the Prophet Jonah: “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.

In our Gospel today, we see the first words of Jesus when he began his public ministry: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.

We are a nation in dire need of repentance. We have killed our own progeny, our own future. I say “we” because thirty-nine years ago abortion was forced upon a largely unsuspecting nation. But since then we have elected presidents who are pro-abortion, who have appointed Supreme Court justices who are pro-abortion; and we have elected senators who are pro-abortion who have confirmed the nominations of pro-abortion Supreme Court justices.

People may not like to hear this, but I must speak the truth:  The blood of the innocents is on our hands, collectively, as a nation. People may complain that abortion is only a “single issue.” Well, Abraham Lincoln was elected on the single issue of slavery, and we fought a bloody civil war in this country over this single issue. That’s because people thought the issue of slavery was the determining issue in choosing a president, and that this issue was worth fighting for, and dying for. Well, morally speaking, the murder of unborn children is a greater crime than slavery, and the ongoing holocaust in our nation should be a determining factor in choosing candidates for public office.

Our Lady at Fatimacame in 1917, during WWI, and told the little children that “war is a punishment for sin.

Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, said that he did not think the civil war would end “until every drop of blood shed with the lash had been paid for by the sword.

Listen to these the profound words spoken by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against a child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murdered by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Mother Teresa also said these chilling words: “The fruit of abortion is nuclear war.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa both had a keen sense of justice; they knew that God will not be mocked.

Let us pray, my brothers and sisters, for an end to our ongoing American Holocaust. Let us pray that we will elect presidents and members of Congress who will respect the most fundamental right of all, the right upon which all others are based, the right to life. And finally, let us pray that people in our land will embrace purity and practice chastity, repent of their sins, turn back to God and beg His forgiveness.

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Christmas Sermon 2011

Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.

Tonight/today we rejoice, for on this day “a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; His Name is Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:5).

 On this day a Savior is born to us: God who became man while remaining God. At His Incarnation nine months before, God the Son assumed our nature without losing His own, and He whom the entire universe could not contain was enclosed within the womb of His Blessed Mother.

As Pope St. Leo the Great puts it: “The supreme and eternal being that lowered Himself for man’s salvation, has raised us up to His own glory without ceasing to be that which He had been.”

 Moreover, He comes into the world being born a tiny, helpless Infant. “Infant” comes from the Latin infans, which literally means one who is incapable of speaking (fari – to speak). O wonder of wonders: the Eternal Word is born an infant, lying silent in the manger; yet there, in the silence of the stable inBethlehem, He teaches us a great lesson of humility and poverty.

 “Christmas not a mere anniversary of Jesus’ birth – it is also this, but it is more – it is the celebration of a mystery that has marked and continues to mark mankind’s history: God Himself came to dwell among us (cf. Jn.1:14), He made Himself one of us.”

 These are the words that Pope Benedict XVI spoke in a catechesis on Christmas just a few days ago. Yes, truly, with the birth of Jesus Christ – the Son of God who became man – all human history is now divided: there is the time before Christ (B.C.), and the time after His birth which we signify by the letters A.D. – anno Domini – “the year of the Lord.”

 And this is most fitting and proper, because the Incarnation and Birth of Our Lord is the culmination of all creation, of all human history. With Christ’s coming, with God having entered into time by taking human flesh, all of creation is now touched in some way by His divinity, by His presence; and more importantly, with Christ’s redeeming work, we who are baptized into His grace are truly made partakers of His divinity, sharers in the divine nature.

 And it is here that we must come to grasp another great truth of Christmas: that Christ’s Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh, encompasses not only His joyful birth where the angels sing His praises, but also His agonizing death and glorious resurrection.

Our Lord’s redeeming work begins to visibly unfold on the day of His birth, but it points to and culminates in His Self-offering on the Cross and His rising from the dead, and is perpetuated at every Mass, where Jesus makes his Incarnation concrete and present to us in the Eucharist, in which we receive the Body and Blood of Him who was conceived in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit and born on Christmas Day.

And let us not forget that Christmas takes its very name from “Christ’sMass.” What would Christmas be without the Mass, in which Jesus comes to nourish us with His Body and Blood, so that He may be the supernatural Food for our souls to strengthen us to love as He loved.

In fact, the whole of the Christmas mystery is explained in that one word: love. “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son” to offer His life on the Cross for our sins, and to feed us with His Body and Blood and thereby transform us, who are sinners, more and more into Him. 

The Gospel account of the Birth of the Savior wonderfully foretells this great mystery of the Eucharist and our union with Christ through It.

St. Luke tells us that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, which literally means, in Hebrew, “House of Bread,” and that Our Lord was laid in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.

Thus, here we are told, in a symbolic way at Christ’s Birth, that He Himself is our Living Bread come down from Heaven who will nourish our souls to be united with Him and, through union with Him, attain of Eternal Life in the Kingdom.

This truth was captured beautifully in one of my favorite Christmas poems, The Nativity of Christ, penned by the English martyr and poet, St. Robert Southwell. It reads in part:

Man altered was by sin from man to beast;

Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh.

 Now God is flesh and lies in manger pressed

As hay, the brutest sinner to refresh.

My dear friends, let us, on this Christmas, thank God for the great gift given to us, His Son, born for us this day:  Our Savior, the Eternal Word who took our mortal flesh for us brutish sinners to refresh.

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Homily 26th Sunday Year A (9/25/11) – Social Teaching/Just Wage

Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.

     “O Lord, you had just cause to judge men as you did: cause we have sinned against you and disobeyed your will.” Yes, God is a just Judge, and he expects that we, in our social and economic relations, treat each other justly. The Church has a beautiful body of teaching in this area – a teaching which arose in response to what is known as the Industrial Revolution; i.e., the rise of industry with those who own the capital or means of production, pitted against the workers or laborers; and in response to the writings of Karl Marx and others who proposed socialism and communism as a solution to the problem of the capitalists v. the workers.

     This social and economic teaching of the Church began formally to develop about 120 years ago with the first great social encyclical written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, called Rerum Novarum (On the “New Things” of the Social/Economic Order).

     On the one hand, Pope Leo XIII denounced Karl Marx and the Socialists who denied the existence of God, and held that the individual is here to serve the State and that private property should be eliminated with the State owning all property. On the other hand, the Pope condemned laissez-faire capitalism which allowed the owners of the capital to exploit the workers for their own gain.

     Pope Leo XIII laid out the perennial teaching of the Church, that private property is a God-given right; but, that it is not an absolute right because private property is subordinated to the common good, and that in God’s plan there is something called a universal destination of goods for the benefit of all; that in reality, God, the Creator of all, allows us to use the goods of the earth, but we must be good stewards. Furthermore, those who own the capital or means of production must be fair to workers, and that workers have the following rights:

–         a just wage – to enable a man to support his family so that his wife and children do not need to work;

–         that workers have a natural, God-given right to organize and form labor unions in order to collectively bargain, because individual workers have no bargaining power with the owners of the means of production;

–         there should be a reasonable working day – so that one does not work 12 or 16 hours;

–         safe working conditions with compensation for injury or sickness;

–         a day of rest to worship God and spend time with one’s family; and

–         to earn enough money for a pension and retirement.

     The Church’s social teaching is a light in the darkness of this world’s present economic structures.  Over the past 120 years numerous Popes in their writings have expanded and further clarified this teaching. 

     The Church teaches that the primary goal of an economic system is not to acquire more money and goods, to increase personal wealth; this only leads to greed and a consumerist mentality. Rather, the goal of an economic system – including good businesses which operate within it – should be to benefit the human person, to foster the moral and spiritual growth of human beings. This is why Pope Benedict XVI, in his most recent social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), teaches that business and economic activity must be guided and informed by charity, the love of God and neighbor, and be governed by moral truth.

     Why? Because our ultimate goal is not earthly ease and comfort, but eternal rest in Heaven. God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life, in order to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. And Jesus tells us that whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 1994, teaches that “the relation between morality and economics is necessary, indeed intrinsic: economic activity and moral behavior are intimately joined to one another” (331).

     The problem is that many of those who operate within our present economic system, which now encompasses the world, often do not have the good of the person as their overriding goal; their practices are not informed by charity and are not guided by moral truth; rather, their primary goal is amassing more and more wealth, motivated by greed.

     During his papacy, Pope John Paul II taught that the basis for a just social order begins with the principle of the universal destination of goods, so that all people may benefit from the world’s goods and resources. Moreover, he taught that the practical means to assure that people and families are able to acquire sufficient food, clothing, housing, education, etc., is the just wage.  In his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), he taught that “a just wage is the concrete means of verifying that the justice of the whole socio-economic system and of checking that it is functioning properly.” 

     The Pope teaches that a just wage is basically a family wage, i.e., “a single salary paid to the head of the family for his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to work outside the home.” A just wage facilitates bigger families; couples have the confidence to be willing to have more children without being anxious about how to provide for them.

     We know that the principle of a just wage has been undermined in our present economic system. In theU.S., real wages have fallen over the past forty years. Scores ofU.S.corporations have moved their manufacturing plants overseas. Why? To better the lives of people there? No, simply to make a bigger profit because workers in other countries are paid what is tantamount to slave wages and they receive no benefits asU.S.workers receive – and as basic justice demands.

      About 20 years ago I lived inMexicofor a couple of months while studying Spanish. I inquired whether the workers employed in the GM and Ford auto plants were paid a wage so that they could afford a house with running water. I was told, “No”; workers were paid about a dollar an hour, 8 dollars a day.

     About 15 years ago, soon after U.S.companies began moving their manufacturing to communist China, I recall listening to an interview on National Public Radio of a Sears senior VP. When asked if he had any qualms of conscience about this practice, in that the Chinese laborers were paid slave wages and were treated unjustly, he replied:  “I do not concern myself with moral or ethical questions; my job as an executive for Sears is to earn the biggest profit for our shareholders.”

     Well, the fact is that our workers here in theU.S.cannot compete with the slave labor inChina: About 15 years ago I recall reading that the average wage for a factory worker there was about 17 cents an hour. Recently I’ve read that workers now make the equivalent of about $140-$150 per month – which amounts to about 75 cents an hour – and the heads ofU.S.companies are now complaining, because this is reducing their profits! Well, still, workers here in theU.S.cannot compete with what is still effectively slave labor.

     Over many decadesU.S.workers, through forming unions and collective bargaining, fought hard battles to gain the basic rights which the Church teaches are due to them in justice:   a just wage, reasonable working hours, a day of rest to worship God, health and retirement benefits, prohibition of child labor, etc. Chinese workers have no such rights, they have no benefits that workers here have, because they have no right to form labor unions in their “workers’ paradise.”

     I’ve read stories about good, moral business owners who complain that they can’t compete with companies that manufacture oversees and pay slave wages. I’ve been told that many manufacturing plants have left thisKenoshaarea – I’ll bet for this very reason.

     My own opinion is that the leaders of our country – and here I’m speaking of both parties, Democrats and Republicans – have sold the American blue collar worker down the river. Neither Democrat nor Republican leaders oppose exportation of our industry overseas in order that corporate owners and shareholders can make bigger profits; as one commentator says, they are “two wings of the same bird of prey.” Leaders of both parties promote so-called “free trade,” but free trade in our present system is not fair, ethical trade. In reality, U.S.corporations are exploiting workers in Chinaand elsewhere. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Centesimus Annus refers to such practices as “ruthless capitalism.”

     And here is another point to consider in regard toChina: This past week I read thatChina’s one-child policy has resulted in the murder of 400 million Chinese babies by either forced abortion or infanticide. In other words,Chinahas been built into an economic superpower on the blood of hundreds of millions of innocent children. Moreover,Chinacontinues to persecute the Catholic Church, arresting bishops and priests. Some propose levying a minimum 10% tax on any country that violates religious freedom and human rights violations – a wonderful idea!

     It makes my blood boil when I walk into a store and try in vain to find a product made in theUnited States. Almost everything is manufactured inChina; what little else that is not made inChinais almost all made in some other third world country – again, at wages far below what aU.S.worker makes.

     The upshot of all this is that the middle class is effectively being eliminated. I read in yesterday’sKenoshanewspaper that “The state’s median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 14.5% between 1999 and 2010, according to US Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.” Nationally, the decline is 8.9% over that same period.

     I have a cousin who just lost his job as a computer technician after 19 years with a company. He was told that if he wanted to keep his job he could move toIndia. I’m sure we could all tell similar stories. Our manufacturing base is largely gone in this country; computer industries are having work done overseas – all for cheap labor, motivated by greed. The goal should be to raise the standard of living for workers and families in all countries around the world to the level of our workers here in theU.S.

     A couple of years ago Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and said: “The worldwide financial breakdown has . . . shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of the internalized moral standards.” He said this erroneous assumption is based on an “impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self interest and profit seeking.” Here the Pope criticizes the laissez-faire economics of Adam Smith and the free market proponents in theNew World economic order.

     Instead, the Pope explained that economics has an essentially ethical nature as “an activity of and for human beings. . . . economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development – political, cultural and spiritual – of individuals, families and societies.” Furthermore, he acknowledged the need for “looking to comprehensive and objective standards against which to judge the structures, institutions and concrete decisions which guide and direct economic life”; that “all economic decisions and policies must be directed towards ‘charity in truth.’” 

     Let us pray that this will happen, and that the Church’s teaching may be a guiding light to all.

 

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Class on Social Teaching Part 2

Father Dwight Campbell, S.T.D., explains the Church’s social teaching.

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Class on Catholic Social Teaching Part 1

Father Dwight Campbell, S.T.D., explains the Church’s social teaching.

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Homily, Second Sunday of Advent 2010

 Fr. Dwight Campbell, S.T.D., St. Thomas More Church, Chicago, IL

In the season of Advent, Holy Church asks that we contemplate the two comings of Christ:  His First Coming, in the humility, when the Eternal Word became flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary, in order one day to offer his life on the Cross and to redeem us from our sins; and His Second Coming, when at the end of the world He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, as we profess in the Symbol of our Faith, the Creed. 

We know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will return, but Jesus warns us to be always watchful and vigilant; and Jesus, like Saints Peter and Paul in their epistles, give us warning signs to know when the end of the world is coming and when the son of perdition, the Antichrist, will make his appearance. For example, we are told that as the world’s end approaches, men’s hearts will grow cold, that there will occur a great apostasy or falling away from the faith, and that people, with itching ears, will run after and embrace all types of false teachings.

Recent events throughout the world, in our nation, and particularly in our own State of Illinois, make me wonder whether we are, indeed, coming closer to the end.

Back in the 1950s a movie was produced, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It was a science fiction story about aliens who invade our planet. The aliens take over people’s bodies – or make replicas of people’s bodies (I can’t recall exactly) – so that one’s friends, neighbors and fellow workers appear to be the people one knows, but in fact they are aliens who are using people’s bodies, in disguise. By speaking with them you would know something was not right, not normal; they spoke and acted in a creepy manner, as if they were being programmed.

Well, this is how I feel, and I’m sure many of you as well, in our encounters with friends and acquaintances in our present time. Can anyone imagine, even fathom, 20 or 30 years ago, that a majority of people would advocate and see nothing wrong with homosexual unions, and be in favor of laws in which the state gives legal recognition to such unions, placing them on equal footing with marriage? If someone 20 or 30 years ago said this would happen, you’d think they were crazy, that they were uttering nonsense. And yet, this has happened in many countries throughout the world, in many states in our own country, and, just this past week, it happened here in Illinois. 

The local newspapers this week reported that polls show that 57% of people favor or see nothing wrong with so-called same-sex unions. And haven’t we all encountered relatives and friends whom we thought we knew well, who think likewise? It’s as if their minds have been taken over by alien spirits – I would submit, not alien spirits, but spirits from below!

Francis Cardinal George penned an article a couple of weeks ago explaining why such laws should never be enacted:  “Everyone has a right to marry, but no one has the right to change the nature of marriage,” he said, and, “the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage” (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/23/10, p. 16).

We may wonder why people fail to see the inherent evil in such legislation. I’ll tell you why.  First of all, people’s minds have been numbed by watching television shows such as “Will and Grace” for the past 15 years; their consciences have been deadened by the popular culture. The second reason is contraception and sterilization:  if sexual activity is purely for pleasure rather than being ordered toward the procreation of new human life, then homosexual sodomy becomes just another option for sexual satisfaction.

Last week, Cardinal George personally telephoned a number of Catholic legislators in our state – some of them, I understand, he telephoned numerous times – before the vote was taken on Senate Bill 516; but, to no avail. The bill passed both houses.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese, the former auxiliary bishop here in Chicago, warned Gov. Quinn, who has yet to sign the bill into law, that “the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.”  Gov. Quinn responded, “I follow my conscience, . . . and my conscience is not kicking me in the shins today. . . . My religious faith animates me to support this bill” (Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/10, p. 20).  I’d be willing to give the Governor a good kick in the shins if it would help to enlighten his conscience.

Gov. Quinn’s statements, and the other Catholic legislators who no doubt agree with him in supporting this legislation, reveal to us that they have no regard for the clear teachings of the Bible and the Church. To put it very simply, sodomy is a sin. This bill in the effect legalizes sodomy, gives it a stamp of approval, by legitimizing unions between two people of the same sex, and thus is a step toward redefining the God-given institution of marriage, which the State has no authority or power to do.

By voting in favor of this proposed law, these Catholics have committed a grave sin and have taken themselves out of communion with the Church; additionally, they have committed grave scandal, and as a result, they are out of a State of Grace and can no longer licitly receive Holy Communion – unless and until they publicly repent of their wrongdoing and renounce their actions in order to make reparation for the public scandal they have caused (per Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura).

Moreover, Gov. Quinn’s statement about “following his conscience” reveals that he lacks a true understanding of what conscience is. Conscience is not “doing what ever I think is right.” Gov. Quinn has fallen into what Fr. John Hardon calls “the greatest demonic deception ever proposed to the human race,” a deception that many, if not most of the people in our modern age have embraced:  that “I” am the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, that “I” will decide for myself what is good and what is evil. This is really the original deception offered to our first parents, and the deception offered to people today:  “Here, eat this fruit, and you will become like gods! You, not God, not the Church, will decide what is right and wrong!”

The truth is that conscience is not “doing whatever I want to do, whatever I think is right.” Conscience is not an act of the will; rather, conscience is a judgment of the intellect, whereby we applied the moral law, as revealed in the Bible and as taught by Jesus Christ and His Church, to the circumstances at hand. For example, I know that the Bible and the Church teach that homosexual sodomy is a gravely sinful, and that marriage is designed by God to be a union between a man and a woman for life that is ordered toward both uniting the husband and wife in love and the procreation of new human life; therefore, I cannot vote for any law which would legalize and give approval to homosexual sodomy and attempt to put same-sex unions on par with marriage.

Gov. Quinn’s statement reveals that either:  1) his conscience is malformed on this issue and that he is ignorant of the Catholic Church’s teaching – which is highly doubtful considering that he attended Catholic schools and a Catholic university, at a time when they still taught the authentic Catholic Faith; or 2) he is being dishonest, and using the line “following my conscience” as an excuse for doing something that he thinks is politically expedient.

About 500 years ago, there was a high-ranking public official who was encouraged by friends and family members to do what was “politically expedient.” He refused to do so, and he died the king’s good servant, but God’s first. His name was Thomas More.

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Prayer for the Pope as an Essential Feature of Catholic Spirituality

by Fr. Benjamin Reese, S.T.D. (Cand.)

“So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made to God for him by the Church without ceasing”   Acts   12:5

Introduction:

Catholics have prayed for the Pope as the successor of St. Peter since the earliest days of the Church,  but the need for this prayer “without ceasing” has never been greater than today.

The Papacy as an institution and the Pope as a person is assailed almost daily from the right and the left,  from the east and the west, from inside the Church and from without.  Added to this are his extreme frailty and the tenuous state of the Church in a  modern, secularized world. We also know that the Pope has powerful enemies, not of this world; that the demons themselves are seeking to destroy the Church.  That is why Jesus reassured Peter that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church.

This means however that there is a real and present danger from their malicious influence and and hellish intrigue.  Jesus told Peter that “Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat and I have prayed for you that you may turn and strengthen your brethren.”  St.  Peter himself tells us that “the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour,  stand up to him strong in faith.”  Pope Leo XIII was shocked in his famous vision when he saw that the Devil had been give a period of time to tempt the Church and so he composed the famous St. Michael prayer to be recited after low Mass.  Finally, Pope Paul VI boldly announced that the smoke of Satan had entered into the Church.

The horrible homosexual scandals of recent years are only the tip of the iceberg of these demonic plots.  Widespread dissent and heresy in high places are symptoms of the most malevolent and successful satanic conspiracy in history to destroy the holy Catholic Church.  Satan cannot succeed ultimately, but he has seduced many souls and these horrible scandals and the orchestrated media campaign against the Church have weakened her moral authority and undercut the new evangelization.  The new springtime of the Church, so longed for at Vatican II, has not yet been realized due to this masterful, demonically organized plan to infiltrate and corrupt the Catholic Church.

The Need for Unceasing Prayer

With the decrease of contemplative orders in the world, the laity must realize their universal call to holiness through a renewed and intense prayer life.  This is being realized in many prayers through Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation.  It is the laity with their Bishops, parish priests, and consecrated souls who must answer this call to unceasing prayer so as to be sentinels on the walls of the Church, driving back the modern demonic assaults and liberating Mother Church from the devilish intrigues that are occurring even in her bosom.

The Saints are excellent teachers in this battle for souls and they give us an inspiring example of the power of prayer for the Holy Father as the Vicar of Christ.  We see how the early Church prayed for St. Peter and the liturgy contains prayers for the Pope as the Bishop of Rome since the 3rd century.   However, modern saints have been increasingly attentive to the need of prayer for the Pope especially since the time of St. Catherine of Sienna.  St.  Catherine lived in a time of great corruption and confusion in the Church, and she offered her life as a victim soul for her own sins and for those of  the clergy,  including the Pope who was resisting God’s call to move back to Rome:

               “This soul then, being purified by the fire of divine love, which she found in the knowledge of herself and of God, and her hunger for the salvation of the whole world, and for the reformation of Holy Church, having grown with her hope of obtaining the same, rose with confidence before the Supreme Father, showing him the leprosy of the Holy Church, and the misery of the world, saying, as if with the words of Moses, ‘My Lord, turn the eyes of thy Mercy upon Thy people and upon the Mystical Body of the Holy Church, for thou wilt be the more glorified if Thou pardonest so many creatures, and givest to them the light of knowledge, since all will render Thee praise when they see themselves escape through Thy infinite goodness from the clouds of mortal sin, and from eternal damnation; and then thou wilt not only be praised by my wretched self, who have so much offended Thee, and who am the cause of instrument of all this evil, for which reason I pray Thy divine and eternal love to take Thy revenge on me, and to do mercy to thy People, and never will I depart from Thy presence until I see that thou grantest them mercy.'”  (The Dialogues of St. Catherine of Sienna,  A Treatise on Discretion). 

What stands out in the prayer of the Saint in comparison to our modern “prophets” is her humility and ardent love for the Church.  She doesn’t focus on other people’s sins but on her own, and for this reason her prayer for the Church is heard by the Eternal Father.  How many pseudo-prophets, addressing the Bishops after the scandals had even an ounce of such humility or love? And with what arrogance do we see modern Catholics chastising the universal Church and the Papacy, as if sinless themselves.

Yet Our Lord does not hesitate to give advice to his prelates and Bishops though his beloved Catherine,  especially about the need to reprove sinners with holy fire and spiritual unction.  Our Lord makes the point to her and to the Church of all times,

               “That correction is necessary before words of encouragement, neither the civil law, nor the divine law, can be kept in any degree without holy justice, because he who is not corrected, and does not correct others, becomes like a limb which putrefies, and corrupts the whole body, because the bad physician, when it had already begun to corrupt, placed ointment immediately upon it, without having first burnt the wound.  So, were the prelate, or any other lord having subjects, on seeing one putrefying from the corruption of mortal sin, to apply to him the ointment of the soft words of encouragement alone, without reproof, he would never cure him, but the putrefaction would rather spread to the other member, who, with him, form one body under the same pastor.  But if he were a physician, good and true to those souls, as were the glorious pastors of old, he would not give salving ointment without the fire of reproof.  And, were the member still to remain obstinate in his evil doing, he would cut him off from the congregation, in order that he corrupt not the other members with the putrefaction of mortal sin.    But they act not so today, but, in cases of evil doing, they even pretend not to see.  And knowest thou wherefore?  The root of self love is alive in them, wherefore they bear perverted and servile fear.  Because they fear to lose their position or their temporal goods, or their prelacy, they do not correct, but act like blind ones, in that they see not the real way in which their position is to be kept.  If they would only see that it is by holy justice that they would be able  to maintain it.  But they do not, because they are deprived of light. but thinking to preserve their position with injustice, they do not reprove the faults of those under them, and they are deluded by their own sensitive self love, or by their defire for lordship and prelacy, and they correct not the faults they should correct in others, because the same or greater ones are their own.  They feel themselves comprehended in the guilt, and they therefore lose all ardour and security, and, fettered by servile fear, they make believe not to see.  And moreover, if they do see they do not correct, but allow themselves to be bound over with flattering words and with many  presents, and they themselves find the excuse for the guilty ones not to be punished.  In such as these are fulfilled the words spoken by my Truth, saying:  ‘These are blind and leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch.’”  (The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna, ‘A Treatise of Prayer’.   p.245-246)

St. Catherine of Sienna was a great mystic,  a victim soul, a stigmatist, and the consecrated Bride of Christ.  Yet even her efforts were only partially successful:  getting the Pope back to Rome, but not really able to cure the Church of her spiritual leprosy.  

The Prayer of other great Saints for the Church and the Pope

Most if not all modern Catholic Saints have had a special devotion to the Papacy, and have prayed frequently and ardently for the Vicar of Christ as the successor of St. Peter.   Most notable in this group was the redoubtable, soldier saint—St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was a true Trinitarian mystic and a man of the Church whose men took a special vow of obedience to the Papacy.  This was not merely some moral or practical arrangement, but an outgrowth of an ecclesial spirituality that saw the Divine founder of the Church choosing Blessed Peter as the foundation of the Church’s faith.  St. Ignatius was not merely a converted military man who was not serving a new earthly master, but a mystic whose faith helped him to see the necessary connection between obedience to God and obedience to the papacy.  We cannot say that we love Jesus and not love his Bride the Church, even in her human and tainted condition.  Hence, love for the Pope and prayer for him are integral to authentic Catholic spirituality.  Indeed, this kind of love and loyalty to the Papacy have been universalized by the example of Loyola and his men.

Certainly, since the time of St. Ignatius this practice of prayer for the Papacy has been a normal practice of every canonized Saint.  With Luther’s rebellion, the role of the papacy was more and more seen as the stabilizing force in the Church and as a Divine guarantee of her triumph over the gates of Hell.  Consequently the Saints of the Counter Reformation, and the survivors of the age of Masonic revolution, looked to the papacy for guidance and found it in a series of holy Popes. 

Among these modern saints we can cite St. Don Bosco whose famous vision of the Church as a ship under assault from the forces of evil is resolved when a holy Pope steers her between the two pillars of Marian Devotion and Eucharistic Adoration.  The sober English convert, Venerable John Henry Newman, was so devoted to the Mystical reality of Peter as the Vicar of Christ that he walked barefooted between the train station and the Pope’s residence.  Saint Jose Maria Escriva made an all night prayer vigil his first time   in Rome from a room where he could see the Holy Father’s window.  St. Padre Pio, in his final days, sent Pope Paul VI a message assuring him of his prayers during the ecclesial revolt triggered by Humanae Vitae.  Finally, we can see the extraordinary closeness of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta with our current Holy Father, and the continuing example of her holy sisters who pray for and sacrifice for the intentions of the Pope. 

Less well known, but of great importance in understanding this spiritual principle, is the example of Blessed Jacinta of Fatima.  When we read of the Fatima apparitions and the response of these children to the requests of Our Lady and the Angel, we are usually astounded by their intense spiritual life and the Heroic degree of virtue which has been attained by such little children.   Constant prayer was accompanied by serious penances such as wearing a rough cord of rope,  going without water on very hot days,  and giving up food and sleep.  In addition to this, the children were subject to incredible pressure to deny their story, through family disbelief, and even harassment by priests and civil officials.  At one point, they even were led to believe that they would be boiled in hot oil unless they revealed their secret from Our Lady. 

Jacinta was also told that she would suffer greatly in order to enter into heaven, and she accepted such sufferings as from the hand of God and Our Mother.   In fact, she would die all alone in a hospital bed in far away Lisbon of the influenza, and this sorrowful, lonely death she offered to the Lord in reparation for the sins of the world and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  She also offered these incredible sufferings for the Holy Father and the Church.  Indeed, she was given several unique visions of the sufferings of the Holy Father in order to inspire her prayer and sacrifice for him.  In Lucia’s account of the Fatima story we read of how little Jacinta learned who the Pope was, 

“Two priests who had come to question us, recommended that we pray for the Holy Father.  Jacinta asked who the Holy Father was.  The good priests explained who he was and how much he needed prayers.  This gave Jacinta such love for the Holy Father that, every time she offered her sacrifices to Jesus, she added:  ‘and for the Holy Father.’  At the end of the Rosary, she always said three Hail Marys for the Holy Father, and sometimes she would remark:  ‘How I’d love to see the Holy Father! So many people come here, but the Holy Father never does!’  In her childish simplicity, she supposed that the Holy Father could make the journey just like anybody else!”   (Fatima in Lucia’s own words—p.50-51)

In her extreme simplicity,  how could she have ever supposed that the Holy Father would one day journey to Fatima to Beatify,  and perhaps one day canonize her.   Jacinta’s prayers and sacrifices for the Holy Father were intensified during her time in prison, and especially when she thought that she would die,    Her cousin Lucia writes in her memoirs of how a scared, little Jacinta faced death with the intention of offering it  for the Holy Father,

                “I soon realized that she was crying.  I went over and drew her close to me, asking her why she was crying:  ‘Because we are going to die,’ she replied, ‘without ever seeing our parents again, not even our Mothers!’  With tears running down her cheeks, she added, ‘I would like at least to see my mother.’  ‘Do you want, then, to offer this sacrifice for the conversion of sinners?’ ‘ ‘I do want to, I do!’ With her face bathed in tears, she joined her hands, raised her eyes to heaven and made her offering:   ‘O My Jesus! This is for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ‘”  (Fatima in Lucia’s own words, p 52)                                                       

Perhaps, when Jesus told us that we must become like little children, this was the type of child he had in mind!  How one wishes that some of our modern theologians would read this story and weep for their sins of arrogance, disbelief, and cowardice in the faith.

CONCLUSION

From Peter to Benedict XVI, the head of the Church has been a special object of the Lord’s predilection, Satan’s scorn, and the Church’s ardent prayer.   Throughout history, this prayer has grown more intense during the Pope’s illness or imprisonment or when attacked by the church’s enemies, such as the case of Pope Pius VII who was imprisoned by Napoleon or Blessed Pius IX who was forced to flee from Garibaldi and company.  Today, our Pope is physically free to roam the world, but he is encircled by enemies, seen and unseen, who hinder his action and frustrate his plans.  Let us add our own feeble prayers to his as this holy Pope finishes his course, to join the Saints and Angels in heaven.  If we do so, we too will be in that long line of saints and sinners who offered unceasing prayer for Peter and his successors, the Vicars of Christ on earth.  May we especially remember our Pope in our daily Rosary, and  follow the example of Blessed Jacinta of Fatima, and the requests of Our Lady of Fatima.

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