Immaculate Heart of Mary, Ora pro nobis.

This blog is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in reparation for all the sins committed against Her Most Pure Heart. May Her Immaculate Heart draw us closer to Her Divine Son, Our Most Precious Lord.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Come One, Come All!!! The Circus is Coming!!

     A week from today, on October 27, the Big Top will set up shop in Assisi, Italy.  The thought of it saddens me to the depths of my soul.  What in the world the Pope hopes to accomplish or portray is truly a great mystery to me and it is to many others.  Of course, this is not the first time the Circus has come to town.  This year's circus, in fact, is in commemoration of the original Big Top hosted by Pope John Paul II in 1986.  What a shame and what a scandal.
    The Master of Ceremonies at this year's Three Ring Circus is, of course, Pope Benedict XVI.  No.  I am not mocking the Pope.  On the contrary, I am faithful to the Pope but he is about to embark on a mockery of Our Precious Lord just as his predecessor did in previous years.  That, too, is a shame and a scandal.  My purpose of this blog, and probably another one, is to bring attention this mockery called Assisi III.
      Two days ago, the Vatican issued this press release.   Just like any good circus, this one looks to be great fun!  There seem to be quite a few animals and acts that are scheduled for this fine fall day.  The highlight of this event is the elephant  elephant in the room.  She's a big ole' thing and her name is Syncretism.  Synni, like other elephants in the circus, is slow and systematic.  She is sweet and does her tricks most of the time.  Everybody likes her, and everybody is willing to pay their dollar to take a ride.  Synni's job is to make sure everyone has a good time at the circus.  She wants to make sure that nobody feels left out.  And in case you don't like the other side-shows, you can always take a ride on Synni.
     And what are the side shows you might find upsetting at this Circus?  In the first ring, there are the various beautiful ladies all contorted in the various Yoga positions.  Sitting in the midst is a young man, cross-legged, meditating peacefully.  There are men and women carrying colorful banners with the words Peace, Equality, Kindness!  Oh, yes.  But when the blue Krishna comes by playing his flute, look away!  Laugh when the table comes by with Buddha so you can rub his belly!
     Get in line by the second ring so you can hear words of wisdom from the Confucius, attempt to get in harmony with the Tao, and learn to practice some Shinto rituals.  Don't forget to pick up some peanuts before you step in the "New Religions" booth!  Don't panic if you begin to feel a pit in the bottom of your stomach.  It's all good fun!  Oh, do you see that lovely elephant?
     Before you go, though, check out ring number 3, folks!  Get a really good look as the world's Imams and Rabbis gather together and offer you passages from their "sacred" texts.  No need to turn away if they read some passage that is offensive!  Eat some cotton candy!
     As you make your way back up to Synni, the big, beautiful elephant, don't forget to check out the lion tamers and the puppies on parade.  They'll be in the box to the side within the circle of hand-holding, cross-carrying clerics with big hats and bigger beards.
     And of course, no good circus would be complete with a little car packed full of clowns!  Laugh as the silly clown with big eyebrows gets hit on the head with Little Bo Peep Clown's staff!  Count how many little clowns can stuff themselves into shoe box!
     Before you leave the Big Top Circus, tip your hat to the Master of Ceremonies, Pope Benedict XVI.  Look closely.  You might not actually find him wandering through the rings.  He'll probably being talking sweetly to Synni, telling her how kind and peaceful she is.
     But while you are feeding Synni peanuts with the Pope, take you iPod out of your ears.  When you hear the thunder clapping, when you hear the wind howling, when you see the lightning strike, RUN!!!!  Run past the salt pillar of Lot's wife.  Run as fast as you can and get out of the Big Tent before it all comes crashing down.
     God will not be mocked.  Has the Pope forgotten the Holy Scripture, the words of God Himself when he gave the Commandments to Moses?  "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.  Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them; I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and the fourth generation of them that hate me." 
    What good can come out of this "pilgrimage?"  Peace?  Perhaps the Pope has forgotten the words Our Lord spoke to the Apostles.  "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword."  How can there any peace, anywhere, without the One True God?
     Before He ascended into Heaven to be with the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ told his Apostles, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh to the Father, but by me."  His words were simple and explicit.  There is only one Truth.  There is only one God.  No man, not a single one, can know the Father, except through Our Lord Jesus Christ.  No matter how much good will any person has in their heart, it will merit him not one thing if he does not know Our Lord.  Period.
     So if you happen to drop into the Big Top Circus next week.  Don't forget your peanuts.  The elephant is hungry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christopher Columbus---Invader and Slave Trader or Missionary?

     Yesterday, a friend on Facebook posted a fairly common and sarcastic comment about Christopher Columbus.  I expect such from most people, but this friend is a Catholic, and I was truly surprised.  I know the anti-Catholic drivel they teach in U.S. public schools, but do Catholics not know their own history?
     History in public schools is sorely lacking primarily because the truth can no longer be told.  In an effort not to proseltyze, the government run schools must eliminate entire chunks of history because so much of it is Christian, mostly Catholic, in nature.  As only one example, the discussion of early Americans and Thanksgiving is mostly defunct of the Protestants seeking religious refuge in the English colonies.  Such is the case with Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the New World.  When the government seeks to strip Catholicism and the truth from history, then the motives of the great men and women and events in the past become purely sadistic, twisted, and selfish.  What else can they be?  
     Our Lord Jesus Christ is the center of all history, both past and present.  Therefore, in order to begin the discussion of the discovery of the New World, looking to Him is the only place to start.  Our Lord Jesus Christ gave a command to the Apostles and also made a prophecy:  " But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)  Are we as Christians supposed to think that Our Lord meant that Christianity was only for the people localized in Jerusalem and the Middle East?  Are we to believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Made Flesh didn't know about the people living in all the far regions of the world yet to be discovered?  Are we to think that Our Lord became Flesh only for the Semites?  Yet, if we believe Our Lord's command, how do we suppose that witnessing to Him, teaching the Truth, offering salvation, was going to happen unless someone traveled to the uttermost parts of the earth and taught the people living there?  
     In the 1400s, China had a huge command of the seas and a massive empire.  They had 7 epic naval expeditions all before 1433.  With so much power, knowledge, and experience, why did China not set sail across the ocean for the New World?  As I mentioned earlier this week, the Muslims were one of the greatest empires in the world during the 15th as well.  Why were they not the ones to discover the New World?    These islands certainly weren't floating around in the seas or in time just waiting for the right moment to be discovered.  Far from it.  Our Lord had a Divine Plan.  It was the True faith, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His offering of salvation that was to be spread across the entire earth and it was Christians, then, who would be charged with the responsibility of making that happen.
     For almost 800 years, the whole of Spain was ruled by the Moslems.  The only-goal of the Islamic Moors was to rid the influence of Christ from the minds of all the people under their rule.  The Mohammedans used whatever evil devices they could to ensure this would happen---torture, slavery, imprisonment, and death.  Yet, within Spain their remained small numbers of Christians who vociferously fought for the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christians, in those days, had no choice but to be warriors.  War after war after war finally rid Spain of all Moslem influence in 1491.  It was during these last few years of Moslem power that Queen Isabella of Castile came to rule.  She was devoted to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.  Her marriage to Ferdinand brought stability in Spain and allowed her religious zeal and piety to flourish.  She was determined that the True Faith would prevail in Spain and she set in place laws an practices ensuring that would happen.  (Yes, the Spanish Inquisition flourished during this time, however, that requires a separate discussion)  And it was her vision that helped her to recognize the same spirit in Christopher Columbus when he came to her seeking financing for his trip to the West Indies. 
   The conditions of the world into which both Christopher and Isabel were born are nothing that modern Christians could understand..  In Spain, the Moslems had oppressed Christians, Christianity, and all Christian thought from society.  In other parts of Europe, Christianity was facing challenges from humanism which laid the foundation for the Enlightenment and the Protestant heresies.  In many places of that time, it seemed that the True Faith would be all but lost.  It was out of these dark times, that Christopher Columbus emerged with a mission to fulfill Our Lord's Divine  Plan that had begun with the Apostles.
     The exact date of Christopher Columbus birth is unknown, but he was probably born about 1436 in Genoa, Italy.  It is clear from the extensive writings of Columbus that he was a deeply pious man.  It is also clear from his writings that his intended purpose for his trip to the Indies was not one of wealth-searching but of soul-saving.  In Columbus' time, the Moslems had sought to deny Christ as the Divinity.  They had done so with force, violence, and hatred.  Columbus, and many of the saints who were born in this time, sought only to spread through the whole world the Truth.  Columbus was filled with missionary zeal to bring the hope of salvation, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the pagans in the Indies. 
   If this is the case, that Columbus only sought to convert the peoples of the West Indies, why did he not take the normal route that had been used so many times before?  Simple.  In his Book of Prophecies, Columbus explains that the normal trade routes through the Orient had been closed by the Mohammedans and another route had to be found if he was to complete his mission.  While some historians declare this was merely an excuse for him to seek riches through another path, Columbus saw it as God's Providence.  Each entry in Columbus log recounts his love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, when he first reached land on October 12, 1492, Columbus wrote these words:  "At dawn we saw naked people, and I went ashore in the ship's boat …I unfurled the royal banner and the captains brought the flags which displayed a large green cross with the letters "F" [Ferdinand] and "Y" [Isabella] at the left and right side of the cross …To this land I gave the name San Salvador, in honor of our Blessed Lord."   He found the people of this New World both friendly and interesting.  When he wrote about them he said: "I want the natives to develop a friendly attitude towards us because I know they are a people who can be made free and converted to our Holy Catholic Faith more by love than by force." Columbus brought with him on his journey and incredibly piety and a mission to convert the world.  
   Christopher Columbus' discovery and mission laid the foundation for other explorers and missionaries to bring the True Faith to the America's.  In Europe, Catholicism had been lost to Protestantism, humanism, and the Enlightenment.  Yet, God's manifest destiny made a way for the True Faith to take root and blossom in a New World.  In the 1500s, one Spanish explorer after another came to the New World.  Not all of them held Columbus' philosophy.  Some conquered and converted by the sword.  But in spite of the warriors who came, the seeds were sown for the Gospel.  The growth of Catholicism in such a short period of time is unparalleled in history.
     In 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the pagan Aztec convert, St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, Mexico.  Missionaries from Spain came to settle in the area, and by 1540 over 8 million Aztecs converted to Christianity.  From there, Catholicism spread throughout all of Latin America and up into the what is now the Southern and Western parts of the United States.   The Latin American nations today are truly some of the only remaining Catholic nations in the world.
     But what of the accusations that Christopher Columbus was an invader and slave trader?  What about the destruction of the entire race of indigenous people due to Old World diseases of which they had no immunity?    As to the former, Columbus' own pen clarifies his purpose.  He was looking, not to invade but to convert.  Slave trading was a common practice among many native tribes and many countries.  While it is certainly clear that many Europeans were involved in the slave trading industry, the first countries to condemn the practice were Catholic ones.  By the mid 1500s, the practice was forbidden and condemned throughout the New World.  As to the latter, a research study in 1999 by the University of Puerto Rico indicates that over 60% of island inhabitants contain DNA from the Taino tribe--the "Indians" that Columbus' first encountered way back in 1492. If the entire indigenous population was wiped out by disease, why is over half the population indigenous?  Hmmm. 
     The history of the Americas is amazingly beautiful, inspiring, and mostly Catholic.  However, when the Protestants came to America in the 1600s, they brought with them their anti-Catholic propaganda.  Christopher Columbus, of course, was their prime target.  If they could discredit the man, call into question his character and motives, then they could discredit Catholicism.   Why?  Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain, in accord with God's Divine Providence, saved Catholicism from the Muslims, the humanists, and the Protestants by bringing the True Faith to America.  It was Queen Isabella's daughter, Catherine of Aragon, who was met with scorn and discarded by her husband King Henry VIII.  He started his own religion because he had become frustrated with his wife and lusted after another woman.  His "revolt" set the stage for the multitude of Protestant religious beliefs that erupted in Europe.  These were the first people who came to the U.S. American colonies.  Yet, the oldest city in the U.S. is St. Augustine, Florida which was settled in 1565 by the Spanish settlers who were attempting to follow in Columbus' footsteps---all Catholics, all with missionaries, and priests, hoping to bring the True faith to the New World.
     Christopher Columbus, when he landed in what he called San Salvador, brought to the pagan people there freedom.  He and the Spanish settlers brought them the Gospel.  They rescued them from polygamy and idolatry.  The freed them from superstition and strife.  They left in its place the Sacraments and a love for Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.  And as the Lord commanded, the Gospel was carried "even to the ends of the earth."  
   Sadly, U.S. school students won't learn about much of this in history class.  Instead of learning that the history of the entire world rests on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, they learn the propaganda put forth by the Protestants, the humanists, and the secularists.  The truth is God's Divine plan required Christopher Columbus to bring Catholicism to a New World where it could take root and manifest.  Without Catholicism, the True Faith, there is no Christ.  Without Christ, there is no salvation.  Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella knew this.  Why don't we?


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Commemoration of Our Lady of Ransom---September 24

  The Blessed Virgin Mary by repeated visions inspired St. Peter Nolasco and St. Raymond of Penafort to found with the aid of King James of Aragon the Order of Our Lady of Ransom for the redemption of Christian captives from the infidels.  The Church commemorates today this incomparable work of charity.

 Last night before I went to bed, I was checking some of my usual blogs. One blog I like to check about once a day contains all the highlights of mostly Catholic news,  One of the headlines was something like this: "Georgia school district teaches how the Prophet Mohammed elevates women through Sharia law."  The claim that a school district in the United States was promoting Islam, naturally, led me to checking it out.  I was, indeed, shocked to find this is mostly true.  The public school district in Henry County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, has a reading curriculum enlightening the students to the benefits of Islam.  This handout titled, "My Name is Ahlima." is easily accessible through the county school district's website. Shocking.  But certainly not surprising.
  The government run schools, for going on 40 or 50 years now, have become purely a hub of social activity, propaganda, and experimentation.  10 years ago, they completely lost all credibility.  So the re-writing and de-Catholiciszing history is nothing new.  Fortunately for me, out of mere circumstance, I was allowed to attend private school in my youth.  It was there that I learned a great deal about history, not just social studies, and I developed a true love for it.  Since many of the contributors of the teacher's salaries at that school were Catholics, my history classes were never devoid of Christianity.  As such, I learned that those awful, horrible, torturous Catholic Crusades actually had a purpose.  And that purpose was to retrieve the Holy Sites from the Mohammedans and rid the Empire of their evil influence.
     Now, I know that this is certainly not what is taught in public schools.  I was informed a few years ago by a fellow student of our oldest son that the Catholics started the Crusades and the Moslems were only attempting to defend themselves.  After all, their religion is not one of violence, but peace.  This young person, to my sorrow, was a Catholic.  The public school system is quietly leading the way for the Mohammedans to do what they have done to every single country they have taken a strong-hold in---convert them to Islam.
   This alone should be very frightening to Christians, especially Catholics.  Scarier, yet, is the fact that each of the countries the Mohammedans has conquered are still Moslem, except for one--Spain.  If U.S. students had actually been taught the true history of the spread of the Mohammedans, Christians might actually know that their successes in converting all people to Islam was quite simple.  Perhaps, the story of St Peter Nolasco and Our Blessed Mother can shed some light on these very dark times.
   When Mohammed died in 632, his religion might possibly have died with him.  Most of his followers weren't really all that interested in Islam to begin with and they had adopted it only to avoid attacks by Mohammed and his raiders.  But Mohammed's successor, the Caliph Abu Bakr, adopted the heinous policy of killing anyone who rejected Islam.  Heinous as it was, it was highly effective.  This policy was enforced for centuries, though it is used today only by the most radical Islamists.  (In modern times, individuals who leave Islam for other faiths are often shunned by their family and friends.  This treatment is very difficult and, as such, makes apostasy quite rare.)  If Abu Bakr's policies weren't vicious enough, Caliph Omar would set in place the philosophy behind the driving force of all the Arab conquests in the years and centuries that followed.  His orders to his armies were based on this principle:  "It behooves us to devour the Christians and our sons to devour their descendants, so long as any of them remain on the earth."  With this order to follow, the Moslems took over the northern half of India, the old Harappan civilization which is modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of Russia, North Africa, and Spain.  Only 100 years after Mohammed's death, the Arabs controlled most of the civilized world and were the strongest power in the world.  These conquered people converted to the religion of Islam, firmly entrenching the Moslems where they remain to this day.
   The reasons for Moslem success was not necessarily related to violence, and this is what makes this little history lesson so important for today's Christians.  Many of the people conquered by Islam were highly dissatisfied with their governments and rulers.  Most were Semites and considered the Moslems to be liberating them.  More importantly, though, Islam offered incentives for people to convert.  Non-Moslems did not have rights as citizens and had to pay heavy taxes.  Also, these regions will filled with pagans and their multiple religious beliefs.  There were confusing heresies and most people found it difficult to sort through.  Islam, on the contrary, was a simple religious belief and it was easy to convert.  But what of the Christians who didn't convert, who refused to deny Our Lord Jesus Christ?  Those people, particularly in Spain, were often murdered but many were captured, taken to Africa, imprisoned, and tortured until they denied their faith.  To be sure, Christians in a Moslem land were never shown mercy or allowed to practice their religious beliefs in peace.
   The Moslems occupied Spain for about 800 years.  Yet, throughout the reign of the Mohammedans, Catholic kings and leaders never gave up hope.  There somehow remained a remnant of leaders and saints determined to take back their lands and rid themselves of the usurpers.  It was during these dark times, when Christianity seemed defeated, that God sent St. Peter Nolasco.
   St. Peter Nolasco was born in Lanquedoc, France about 1189.  His parents died when he was still a young boy and left to him a considerable fortune.  Our Lord had instilled in him an incredible sense of piety and a great love for the poor.  At an early age, he decided to become a monk.  He found, however, that the Church into which he had been baptized was riddled with heresies.  In an effort to escape them, St. Peter Nolasco made a pilgrimage to Barcelona in Spain to offer works of charity.  It was there that he saw the violence and horror afflicted upon the Christians in Spain.  He was so moved by their plight that St. Peter Nolasco spent his entire fortune ransoming Christians from the Moors (the Moslems), who had taken them slaves into Grenada and the African coast.  The tortures and abuses they faced to get them to renounce their faith incensed the dear Saint.  He spoke often of their plight to his confessor, St. Raymond of Penafort.  He desired only to start a religious order with it's purpose to ransom Christian slaves from the Moslems.
    St. Raymond was so moved by St. Peter's desires that he spoke to King James I, King of Aragon who was already fully involved in the Reconquista, the re-conquering of Spain from its Moslem invaders.  Of course, King James was sympathetic to the cause, as was the whole of Europe.  The entire Christian world was in constant prayer to Our Lord and the Blessed Mother to remedy the evil under which the nation had been captive for so many centuries.
     Because God is true to his promises, on August 1, 1218, the Divine Will manifested.  On that night, the entire Christian world was celebrating the Feast of St. Peter in Chains.  (This feast was removed from the liturgical calendar by Pope John XXIII in 1960 and is only celebrated by traditional Catholics who use the 1954 Calendar.)  This feast commemorated the day St. Peter was freed from Herod's prison by an angel and is recounted in Acts 12:6.  But also on that night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort, and King James I at the same time and through these three humble servants, God established a work of the perfect charity---the redemption of captives.  Our Lady asked St. Peter Nolasco to establish a religious order with the sole purpose of delivering the captives, even offering themselves as ransom pledges if necessary.
   On August 10, 1218, King James I of Aragon established the royal, military, and religious Order of Our Lady of Ransom.  Some of the members were knights, others were clerics.  But there mission was the same--to free the captive Christians from the oppression and torture of the Mohammedans.  The Order grew rapidly across Spain and was solidly approved by Pope Gregory IX in 1230.  Peter and his companions traveled through Spain, recruited new members, and collected funds to purchase captives.  They sailed across the ocean into Moslem lands and negotiated with the slave owners.  The brought home boat-load after boat-load of Christians, each one paid for by ransom.
     Eventually a feast day was established in the Order on September 24.  In 1696, Pope Innocent XII extended the feast day for the entire Church.  In 1891, Pope Leo XII encouraged the devotion, with the focus on how Our Lady ransoms us from the slavery of our sins, and brings us the grace of our conversion.
     This story is especially relevant today as Christians in this country face an onslaught of attacks from all directions.  Many Christians are marginal Christians, some have lost their faith entirely.  Many Catholics have received poor catechesis and couldn't begin to explain their faith, much less defend it.  These circumstances are exactly the conditions needed for large numbers of people to convert to Islam.  When there is a spiritual vacuum, something must fill it's place.  As our great nation gradually converts to Islam, what will happen to those Christians who refuse to deny Our Lord Jesus?
     We must never cease to pray.  Spain remained under bondage to the Moslems for 800 years.  Perhaps the Lord will show his Mercy for us long before that.

Our Lady of Ransom, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Lady of La Salette---September 19

The Blessed Mother appeared on September 19, 1846 to two small children in the fields near La Salette in southeast France.  Sitting on a rock, she cried with grief and covered her face with her hands.  She then explained to Melanie and Maximin the reason for her sorrow and tears; disobedience to the laws of God and of the Church, blasphemy, failure to keep the Lord's day; and lack of prayer.  She warned them of what was to come if mankind persisted in its decadent ways.  "At the first blow of His thundering sword, the mountains and all of Nature will tremble in terror, for the disorders and crimes of men have pierced the vault of the heavens....several cities shall be shaken down and swallowed up by earthquakes.  People will believe that all is lost.  Nothing will be seen but murder; nothing will be heard but the clash of arms and blasphemy."  She begged them to pray more and appease the Heart of her Son by sacrifice for sins.

    Until I became a Traditional Catholic, I had never heard of Our Lady of La Salette.  In fact, last September, when our priest gave a sermon about the apparition and Our Lady's messages, I had to come home and Google it.  My initial thought was "Why have I never heard a priest talk about La Salette??"   While I do have an answer to this question, I won't answer it here.  I'd rather just let Our Lady speak for Herself.  Then reasonable people can draw their own conclusions.

     In the last 170 years, Our Lady has appeared 3 times:  La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima.  All three of these apparitions have been approved by the Church.  All three times Our Lady has appeared, she has seemed very sad at the state of the world and the Church.  All three times, she has left a secret.  All three times, Our Lady's message has been rejected, ignored, or falsified.  Why?  Because her message is one of warning and chastisement.

   The modern Catholic Church, and the culture it seems, is one of great optimism.  Very few priests talk anymore about Hell, sin, suffering, or sorrow.  We are encouraged to think positively, focus on the good things, and over-look people's faults.  We remind ourselves that our society and culture is always getting better or progressing.  We seldom want to imagine that our culture is decaying our our economy is collapsing. Those that do think on these things are labeling as "dooms-dayers," "nay-sayers," or "end-timers."  There doesn't seem to be any place for them in modern culture or the modern Church.

   But each time Our Lady has appeared in modern times, She has had the same message and the same warning.  She warns, if people do not repent and turn back to Our Lord, that a great chastisement will fall upon the whole world.  She warned us first in La Salette, again in Lourdes, and yet again in Fatima.  Some may say that its been over 150 years and  yet nothing has really happened that is unusual.  There have always been wars and famine, earthquakes and volcanoes, murder and mayhem.  Surely, if the Lord was to mete out punishment, he would have done so by now.

    This is also what the people said to Noah during the 100 years it took him to build the Ark.  In spite of their ridicule, Noah remained faithful to God and built his Ark.  And the Deluge came.  Our Lady has been sent to warn us.  Some will remain faithful and be prepared.  Others will not.  But the Chastisement will come.

These are the words of Our Lady as recalled by little Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvert in France in 1846.

France has corrupted the the universe; one day it will be punished.  The faith will die out in France:  three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it.

Great disorder will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere.  Then after that our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted.  His successor will be a pontiff nobody expects.  

All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand.

Civil rulers will have all one same design which will be to abolish, and to make disappear all religious principles, in order to make way for materialism, atheism, spiritualism, and all kinds of vices.

God is going to strike in a manner without example.

Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the antichrist.

The holy faith of God being forgotten, each individual will want to be guided by himself and to be superior to his peers.  Civil and ecclesiastical powers will be abolished, all order and all justice will be trampled underfoot; one will see only homicides, hatred, jealously, lying, and discord, without love for country, or for family.

There is much more to the messages Our Lady left to the shepherd children in France over 150 years ago.  There is also great controversy surrounding those messages, as there is with Fatima.  Some dissenters will say that Our Lady did not say these words--that they were made up years later by a girl who had grown tarnished and tainted with pride and ambition.  Perhaps.

Or maybe, like the revelers beating down Noah's doors, many of us will be gazing in amazement as the events unfold just as Our Lady has warned.

Our Lady of La Salette, Ora pro nobis.



Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29: The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

This article will begin a series this week on a topic that is very personal to me—divorce and remarriage.  As a child from divorced parents, my life has been affected in ways that seldom are addressed.  The story of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist is a perfect way to begin this discussion.

St. John reproached Herod with his unlawful union.  The adulterous Herodias and her shameless daughter Salome forced Herod to behead the Precursor.  The Gospel of the Mass describes his martyrdom.

            St. John the Baptist is often called the Precursor or the Forerunner.  He is given these titles to illustrate that St. John was designed by God to prepare the people for the coming of Our Lord.  He was freed from original sin while still in his mother’s womb and he lived a perfectly sinless life.  He lived an austere life in the desert but spent his time preaching of the need for repentance for the Israelites, and preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  He especially became noted for baptizing people in the River Jordan.  The more he baptized, the more people came to hear him preach, and the more attention he drew to himself.  He didn’t mince words and he was never hesitant to chastise sinners for their behavior.  Many people loved him and listened to him.  He was, as his title suggests, the one who prepared the way for Our Lord.
            We know from Scripture that St. John the Baptist and Jesus were preaching and teaching during the same time.  We also know, from that same Scripture, that St. John was filled with great humility and was quick to point out that he was not the Christ.  In fact, sinless though he was, he didn’t find himself worthy to remove the sandals from Our Lord’s feet.  Perhaps because of his humility and honesty, St. John attracted a large number of followers.  As he traveled, people came to him to be baptized and to hear him preach.  One of those people who apparently was fascinated with St. John’s preaching was the son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas.
            This King Herod was as vile and immoral as his father.  He lived a life of debauchery and self-satisfaction.  He displayed his wickedness and sin out in the open for everyone to see.  He was shameless.  At this time, King Herod had a wife, the daughter of the King of Arabia.  While they had married probably for political reasons, she was his lawful wife, nonetheless.  But upon one of his visits to Rome, Herod fell in love with his niece, Herodias, who was also the wife of his younger brother.  They engaged in an adulterous affair, and eventually Herod divorced his wife and brought his concubine to Galilee.  As if this weren’t scandalous enough, his concubine had a daughter Salome, who was both wicked and shameful.
            When Herod continued to flaunt his new “wife” around, St. John the Baptist refused to be silent.  He admonished King Herod for his behavior, by reminding him that divorcing his wife was sinful, unlawful, and unacceptable.  He encouraged him to repent and discharge the wicked, adulterous Herodias back to Rome.  But because neither Herod nor Herodias wished to be chastised or repent, Herod had St. John imprisoned.  He wanted to have St. John executed right away but he was afraid that killing St. John might cause a revolt among his followers.  Herod knew that St. John was an honest and upright man and that he had no reason, other than selfish pride, to kill him.   Herodias, however, was to have her way and her revenge.
            For his birthday, King Herod planned a grand feast and festival.  All the princes, judges, officials, and important people of Galilee attended.  There was plenty of drinking, eating, and dancing.  The shameful Salome, niece and stepdaughter of King Herod, danced erotically for her King.  Because he was so entranced and mesmerized by Salome, Herod promised he would give her anything as a reward for his pleasure.  On advice from her evil mother, Salome requested the head of St. John the Baptist.  Since King Herod didn’t want to disgrace himself, since he preferred his own lawlessness and sinfulness to that of God’s laws, he ordered that St. John be executed in his prison cell.  St. John’s head was then brought as a gift to the wretched and disgraceful Salome who in turn handed it to her evil and hateful mother, Herodius who mockingly threw his head out with the garbage.  When St. John’s disciples heard the news, they came immediately to retrieve his body and buried him in a tomb. 
            According to Tradition, St. John’s head was found and retrieved by the wife of one of Herod’s officers.  St. Joanna took his head and buried it on the Mount of Olives where it remained hidden for centuries.  His head was found in the 5th century but hidden again to protect it from Muslim invaders.  It was found again 400 years later and was transferred to Constantinople.
            St. John the Baptist was killed because he condemned Herod’s actions of divorcing his wife and marrying his lover.  The Catholic Church has countless numbers of martyrs who have also died condemning such.  St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More were both martyred for refusing to accept the English King Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon.  In French history, King Robert was excommunicated for divorcing his wife Susannah to marry his lover, Bertha. 
The Catholic Church has consistently taught that divorce and remarriage is always unlawful and sinful.  As such, it is never permitted.  (In some cases annulments are issued, which I will address later this week.)  Protestants, persons of other religions, and secular people adhere to the idea that a marriage can be dissolved in certain circumstances.  This idea, however, has brought a tremendous evil onto society.  Currently, modern society is facing an epidemic of incredible magnitude.  The family has been totally broken apart.  Many men and women are on their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th marriages.  There are children from each of these partnerships that live in a constant state of confusion.  Plenty of children don’t know their mothers or fathers and have siblings they will never meet.  These children are all but abandoned and often times have to make their own way in the world, without any real guidance or support. 
I grew up in one such environment.  This week I am going to be like St. John the Baptist.  I am going to bring divorce out into the Light and condemn it.  I am certain that I will share a similar fate with the great St. John. 

St. John the Baptist, pray for us, that we have your humility when we approach Our Lord.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us, that we may have the courage to condemn the evils in our society, regardless of the cost.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us, that divorced people or people considering divorce have the courage to reconcile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24: The Feast of St. Bartholomew--Apostle

St. Bartholomew the Apostle, whose name means son of Tholomy, is believed to be the same as the Nathanael whom the Master praised as the Israelite in whom was no guile.  He preached the Faith in India and Armenia.  He was flayed alive and beheaded in 71 A.D.

He is the patron of our son, Garrett Nathaniel.
   I have been anticipating writing about St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, for quite some time.  He is the patron saint of our 2nd son and St. Bartholomew’s little known life and character is very interesting.  He is listed as one of the Twelve Apostles, identified and called personally by Our Lord Jesus.  The Scripture mentions him only briefly, but those passages offer a tremendous insist into the man Jesus called “the Israelite without guile.”
            Guile is one of those words the English language has lost to political correctness.  Fortunately for humanity, Jesus did not fancy political correctness.  He was a Man who didn’t mince words.  So when he called Bartholomew, he could see that his heart was pure.  The Jews had become synonymous with lies, wickedness, and deceit.  Very, very few of them could be trusted.  Since Bartholomew was from Cana, it was likely that no one aside from his friend, Philip, knew him.  For Our Lord to identify Bartholomew from the beginning as guileless or without deceit was quite significant.  And just as Our Lord was able to see into St. Bartholomew’s heart, St. Bartholomew immediately was able to recognize Our Lord as the Son of God. 
            Perhaps because his heart was so pure, St. Bartholomew was quickly identified as the cheerful Apostle.  He brought humor, softness, and optimism into a group of men who were otherwise somber, serious, and overburdened with troubles.  Upon first introduction to Jesus, St. Bartholomew replied in both jest and seriousness, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Certainly St. Bartholomew’s sarcasm had some merit, since, at that time, Nazareth was viewed as a pretty vile and corrupt town.  But Jesus, nonetheless, welcomed His Apostle with tremendous warmth and when He spoke, St. Bartholomew understood that this Man from Nazareth was indeed the King of Israel.
            From tradition, we understand that Bartholomew was a bright spot in the lives of the other 11 Apostles.   It was tireless Bartholomew who encouraged them to keep walking through the heat and dust into the next town.  With his natural perceptive ability, he was able to help draw Thomas to understanding.  With his friendly nature, he was able to soften the over-serious Philip.  For the logical and objective Matthew, he was a source of kindness and compassion.  Bartholomew was the one who best reflected the mercy, kindness, gentleness, and compassion of Our Lord so the others, too, could feel it.  It is no surprise, then, that Our Lord allowed St. Bartholomew to witness His Glorious Ascension into Heaven.
            Due to his nature, it is not hard to understand that St. Bartholomew welcomed with gladness the opportunity to spread the Gospel throughout the world as Our Lord commanded.  He traveled into India, possibly with St. Matthew, taking that Gospel to the pagans there.  Through is gentleness and joyfulness, St. Bartholomew was able to convert many souls.  He later traveled into Armenia, which borders Turkey and Iran.  It was here he worked hard to convert the nation, but he also made many enemies among the pagans.  It was here that the brother of the King became so angry with the Cheerful Apostle that he ordered him to be skinned alive and beheaded. 
            After his death, the Armenia Christians took St. Bartholomew’s bones and head and buried them in a lead sarcophagus.  Due to the number of miracles attributed to his burial site, many more souls were converted.  The pagans began to fear the situation and threw the entire sarcophagus into the sea.  Instead of sinking, the sarcophagus floated by Divine Providence to the island of Lapari, Sicily.  When the Muslims invaded the area, the relics were moved to Benevento, Italy in 840.  Eventually, they were transferred to Rome and onto other parts of the world. 
Many miracles regarding weights of objects and healing of the sick have been attributed to St. Bartholomew’s relics.
He is the patron saint of Armenia, bookbinders, leather workers, and tanners.

St. Bartholomew, pray for us, that we may have a pure heart to truly see Our Lord.

St. Bartholomew, pray for us, that, in the midst of our gloomy world, we may be infused with joy and gladness.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22: The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary--Patroness of this Blog

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.  (Luke 2:35)
            When I was a young girl, the Christmas story was the only opportunity I had to read about the Blessed Virgin Mary.  During Christmas time, the Protestant church I attended would read the first two Chapters of St. Luke, from the Nativity to the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.  And each year, I was always drawn to one particular verse—the next to last verse in that Scripture reading—“And his mother kept all these words in her heart.”  As a child, I am not really certain that I understood what this meant.  As I grew, I don’t believe it was ever really explained to me in any real terms except that “Mary loved Jesus as a mother loves her son.”  There wasn’t any emphasis on it or anything truly remarkable about the Blessed Virgin. What I didn’t know then was that Protestants have a fear that devotion to Mary takes the focus off Jesus.  They couldn’t be more wrong.
            Devotion to the Heart of Mary dates back to Biblical times.  Early Christians were drawn to Mary because of her immense love and virtues.  Out of compassion, these Christians were most especially drawn to Mary standing at the foot of the Cross while she contemplated and watched Jesus die.  When they coupled this with St. Simeon’s prophecy that Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword,” and St. Luke’s words that Mary held “all these things in her heart,” a true devotion to the Blessed Mother’s Heart began to blossom.  As the Church grew, so did Devotion to Mary.  The Fathers of the Early Church wrote about her virtues, her virginity, her tenderness, her compassion, her wisdom, her obedience, and her love for Our Lord Jesus.  By the 5th Century, it was generally understood that before Mary conceive the Christ in Her womb, She bore Him in Her Heart and Her Heart became the model of Christian love.
            For the next 600 or 700 years, devotion and love of Our Lady grew among private individuals and communities.  At the height of the Church, in the Middle Ages, many Bishops, priests, and Saints began to include formal devotions and liturgical practices.  Much was written about Her Heart and many petitions were brought to Rome to make devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary a public prayer.  Each time a petition was brought to Rome in hopes of instituting a feast to celebrate Mary’s Pure Heart, however, it was dismissed.  In spite of these disappointments, though, private devotions continued and, in some places, intensified.  In 1648, due to the dedication and efforts of St. John Eudes in France, the Feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was allowed to be added into the liturgy in the orders and seminaries he founded.  When Pope Pius VI was held captive during the French Revolution in 1799, he also allowed the same Feast to added to the calendar in a few more Churches.  By the 1850s, France had quickly and quietly become the center of devotion to the Holy Heart of Mary.
            Perhaps devotion to Mary would have remained in France even until these days, but, as I have discovered in my own life, God often has other plans.  In this case, God’s plan involved 3 peasant children about 800 miles from France in Fatima, Portugal.  On May 13, 1917, the little children Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco were tending their flocks in the fields.  Our Lady came down from Heaven to appear to them in a series of visions.  She came to them on the 13th day of 6 consecutive months and revealed to them many things.  On her last visit, October 13, she declared that “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”  In 1930, the Catholic Church recognized the apparitions at Fatima to be worthy of belief.  (I will definitely write more about Our Lady of Fatima.)  In 1944, Pope Pius XII, who had a particular devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary into the liturgy of the Universal Church.  From that time until Vatican II, the entire Church celebrated this Feast on August 22, 8 days after the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In 1969, the Feast was moved to coincide with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
            What exactly is so special about Mary’s Heart anyway?  This is a question I have pondered since my childhood days as a Protestant and precisely was led me to Traditional Catholicism.   The heart has long been a symbol in religion, art, and literature.  It is used to exemplify the spiritual, emotional, moral, and intellectual condition of people.  We talk about people, sometimes, by referring to their hearts.  Cold-hearted people, we understand, are incapable of compassion.  Hard-hearted people have closed themselves off to wisdom.  Soft-hearted people can’t bear to see suffering.  Kind-hearted people always think of other’s needs.  We all have our sweet hearts and we’ve all probably been lonely hearts, too.  Our hearts, then, are a reflection of who we are and what we are capable of. 
Our Blessed Mother, as Her Heart symbolizes, is Immaculate—pure love, pure charity, pure wisdom, pure gentleness, and pure mercy.  By her Immaculate Conception, she is not capable of impure thoughts, empty deeds, self-centered kindess, pride, or vanity.  She seeks only the will of Her Divine Son.  Through the graces given Her by Our Lord, She is the perfect model of compassion, tenderness, and wisdom.  Since Our Lord left Her for us as our own Mother, He has also given us to Her.  Just as She held Our Lord in Her Heart, so She hold us.  She only wants to give us the graces that Our Lord gave to her—charity, kindness, compassion, love, humility, and obedience.  It is through Her Heart that we can come to understand Our Lord.  Why would we not want to know Her Heart?  How can we not want our hearts to be like Hers? 
May the Immaculate Heart of Mary lead us all to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing; Who reignest in splendor with Jesus our King.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria; Ave, Ave Maria

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Do, Every Day

Christian Marriage is the permanent union of husband and wife for the procreation and education of children and for their own mutual assistance.  This union was made sacred when Christ raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament and entrusted its keeping and administration to His Church.  Marriage is God’s plan for peopling the earth, and by it He invites His creatures, through the love they have for each other, to share with Him in the great work of procreation.  He entrusts to the married couple the children born to them, and they may bring them up in the knowledge and love of almighty God, and give them the graces necessary for that work. 
Today is our 20th wedding anniversary.  I am so totally honored and blessed to be the wife of such an amazing man.  He is a terrific husband and an even better father.  With this in mind, I thought this morning I would write about marriage and what I’ve learned over the years.  As usual, God seems to put things right where I need to see them.  This morning was no exception.
          Since we were non-religious, secular people at the time, Steve and I got married by the lake.  It was a simple ceremony with no glitz or glamour.  We were two simple people with hopes and dreams for our future.  It was sweet and romantic.  Since we were both influenced more by our culture than our parents, we really did not have a clue as to what we were doing or what it meant.  Boy, have I learned a lot.
          Sadly, though, young people who are getting married today know a lot less than we did.  I say sadly, because, even though, most married couples stay married, there is a lot of divorce going on.  Many young people don’t even bother to get married anymore.  They have perpetual “fiancĂ©es” and even have children in this environment.  While it might be expected among the non-religious people, this sad condition is common among self-declared Christians. 
          With this attitude about marriage, it’s no wonder that the “wedding” has become such a huge and fanciful affair.  Instead of the beginning of a new life and family, it’s become a showcase for creativity and selfishness.  Hollywood long ago picked up on the idea and offers no less than 15 television shows about weddings.  There is the popular Bridezillas, about women that no man in his right mind would want to marry anyway.  There’s Married Away, where the honeymoon becomes a “destination” wedding.  There is also the fan favorite Say Yes to the Dress, where the wedding dress takes center stage. 
Weddings have become entertainment.  Remember this wedding sensation from last year?  So it’s no wonder that traditional wedding vows just won’t do.  Brides and grooms have become really creative with their vows, from humorous to rap lyrics.  But I ran across some today, a poem from the 30s, that made me hang my head in dismay.  It occurred to me, then, that this is really what couples have in their minds when getting married.  It also occurred to me that it’s no wonder there are so many divorces or couples living together indefinitely.  Here’s part of the poem which is used quite frequently:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

The poem, which was written by Khalil Gibran, has become one of the most popular readings at modern weddings.  If this is really what couples think about marriage then the future is very bleak indeed, especially for the children.  That is, if the parents can find some way to bring a child into “the spaces in their togetherness” and their “not a bond of love.” 
I hope today that somebody asks me how we have managed to make it for 20 years.  Here is what I am going to tell them. 
  1.   God.  Without Our Lord Jesus Christ, we would just be another statistic.  God, through the Sacraments, has given us the graces we need to raise our family and weather any storm.
  2.    There is absolutely no space in our togetherness.  We spend all of our time together.  We don’t have “boy’s night” or “girls night.” 
  3.    Love is not a feeling, it is an action.  All of our actions bond us to one another.  Our love is greater today because our bond is stronger.
  4.    We drink from the same cup and share the same loaf.  Our sustenance is the Lord.  He is our Real Food and Real Drink.  We receive all our graces from Him.  He gives us the wisdom we need to love each other and raise our children.  Our marriage would starve without Him.
  5.    We sing and dance together.  My joy comes from my husband’s joy.  It makes me happy when he is happy.  We like to please each other. 
  6.    My husband holds my heart in his care.  I am not afraid to say that.  Has he broken it before?  Yes.  But that makes him so much more careful in the future.  I’ve broken his heart before, too.  I pray, with God’s help, never to do it again.
  7.    We stand together, always.  Together we are raising our children.  As our two trees grow, they intertwine.  They have become one tree with one huge root and branches that spread out wide.  Our children know they can find refuge there.  They are not confused about which tree provides better fruit or more shade.  We are one big tree with the Lord providing us nourishment and life.
     These 20 years have been a roller coaster ride.  We have had our share of it all--abundance, sorrow, suffering, joy, happiness, fear, excitement, and loss.  The Lord has blessed us with 7 beautiful children and good health.  It has been a gracious 20 years.  I pray the Lord blesses us with 20 or 40 more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16: St. Joachim--Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The holy Patriarch Joachim was the husband of St. Anne, and the father of Our Lady.  This feast, originally kept on March 20, was transferred to the day following the Assumption, in order to associate the Blessed Daughter and her holy father in triumph.
          On July 26, we celebrated the Feast of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin.  Today, we continue to celebrate Our Mother’s parents with the Feast of St. Joachim.  As I mentioned in my post regarding St. Anne, these are two people I knew nothing about as a young Protestant.  Mary’s parents are not mentioned in the Bible at all.  In fact, everything we know about her parents, Joachim and Anne, come to us through tradition and apocryphal texts.  Since my life is so much more than the diary I kept as a child, the letters I wrote to my friends, and the few times I have been mentioned or remembered by others, I am understanding and grateful for the Traditions handed onto us through the Apostles and the Church.
          St. Joachim, whose name in Hebrew means preparation for the Lord, was from a long line of Patriarchs as mentioned in the Old Testament.  He was quite wealthy, with many herds and flocks, but the Lord had not blessed he and his wife, St. Anne, with a child.  St. Anne was barren.  This was particularly scandalous in their time, as all the Jews knew God’s blessing would come through a Messiah, a child who would be born among the Jews.
          St. Joachim was very pious and went, as required by the Law, to offer his sacrifices in the Temple.  But because he and his wife had remained childless for so long, St. Joachim was, on more than one occasion, viewed with scorn and not received.  On one such trip to the temple, St. Joachim left dejected and ashamed.  After being ridiculed and mocked for nearly 20 years, this burden became unbearable.  Instead of returning home, he fled into the mountains to pray to the Lord.
          Once into the mountains, St. Joachim began to plead earnestly with the Lord to relieve this burden he and his wife had born for so long.  He began to fast and offered this prayer to God.  “I will not take any food until the Lord looks at me with mercy.  My prayer will be my fast.”  With this simple yet strong prayer, St. Joachim assaulted God in heaven with his fasting.  He approached the Lord with confidence and resolve, believing that God would indeed have mercy on him and answer his prayers. 
          It would indeed be so.  After spending a long time in the mountains, St. Anne had become convinced her husband was dead.  She stormed heaven with her own prayers.  Just as the Angels were appearing to her in the desert, so were they showing themselves to St. Joachim.  They promised him that God had indeed heard his prayers and a child would come.  St. Joachim returned home with confidence to greet his wife who also shared in the same joy.  Later, of course, St. Anne was to conceive through grace, Our Lady, who was filled with Grace!
          Sts. Joachim and Anne, though burdened and abandoned, never lost faith and confidence in the Lord.  In fact, it was after so much suffering that they turned to the Lord for mercy.  They offer for us an example.  Sometimes, when it seems the Lord has left us, He has not.  He is often preparing us for something that can be brought about only through our suffering.  It is in these times that Our Lord desires us to cry out to him and wait for His Divine Plan to bear fruit.  And what glorious fruit it often is.

St. Joachim, pray for us, that we have the confidence and resolve to seek the Lord to answer our prayers.

St. Joachim, pray for us, that we have the graces to bear with grace our burdens, even with they seem unbearable.

August 15: The Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    In many countries around the world, today is a Holiday.  There will be no banking today in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, or Poland.  In Greece, France, and Colombia there will be parades, processions, and parties.  There will be laughing, singing, dancing, and feasting.  In many places, the celebrations will go long into the night.  For us Americans, including modern Catholic, it will be business as usual.  We’ll go off to work, race around, run to the gym, and grab a quick bite to eat.   We’ll watch America’s Got Talent or maybe Hoarders and, glad that the day is over, we’ll collapse into bed.
          What our Protestant country doesn’t know is that today is one of the most magnificent and glorious days in the calendar of the Church: the day that Our Most Blessed Mother was assumed, body and soul, into heaven.  It’s a glorious day, not only because the Mother of Our Lord was taken to heaven, but because it is a reminder that Our Lord keeps his promises.  For if we remain faithful to Our Lord, if we work out our salvation like St. Paul tells us, with fear and trembling, then, we too, will share in the joy Our Lady already enjoys.  On the last day, our earthly body will join our eternal soul in Heaven.
          When I became a Catholic, I didn’t really have an understanding about Our Blessed Mother at all.  As a Protestant of varying stripes, Mary was really not much of a big deal.  We talked about her only once a year at Christmas.  Even then, She was minimized.  She was just some poor, teenage girl that God randomly assigned to be a surrogate mother.  It didn’t really mean anything.  And if the Annunciation doesn’t mean anything for Mary, then no other event in Her life is remotely significant.  She is, in essence, inconsequential.  This belief has a tremendous impact on a person’s belief in God, as well as their worldview, but I won’t go into that today.  It is, however, something that must be discussed in detail, especially since the modern Catholic Church has already initiated the removal of Our Most Blessed Mother from liturgical practice and, more importantly, from the thoughts of modern Catholics.
          From the moment of Her Immaculate Conception, Our Most Blessed Mother was chosen by God to participate in the most significant moment in history—the Incarnation.   With Her Fiat (not a little red sports car), Our Most Blessed Mother, without doubt or question, accepted the Divine Plan as Her own and became the Most Chaste Spouse of the Holy Ghost.  As such, She carried in her womb and bore into the world, God Made Flesh, Our Lord and Savior.  With Her, the Divine became Man.  It was Our Beloved Mother who nursed Our Lord at Her breasts.  It was Her milk He drank, Her breasts he reached to for comfort.  It was Her arms that nurtured Him, Her lips that kissed His Most Beautiful Face when He was a Child and when He fell to the ground under the weight of His Cross.  It was into Her arms that He was born and it was into Her arms that He lay after dying on that same Cross.  It was She who knew Him first and understood.  So, in honor, as His Mother, Our Lord gave Her the privilege and glory of being the first to join the Blessed Trinity in Heaven.
          Unfortunately, nothing is known precisely about the Blessed Virgin’s death.  When Our Lord died on the Cross, He left His Mother in the care of the beloved Apostle, St. John.  She lived out Her days in his care, praying for and working with the Apostles to bring about Christ’s mission for the world.  One can only imagine that, being the Mother of Our Lord, Mary attracted a lot of attention in those years after the Resurrection.  But instead of taking an active role in the early Church, She sat quietly so the Apostles could do their work, just as Our Lord had requested. 
Tradition holds that Mary lived in this manner until about the year 50 A.D, when She died as quietly as She lived. Upon her death, it is believed that the Apostles buried her in a tomb either in Jerusalem or near Ephesus.   But shortly thereafter, either in minutes, hours, or a few days, Our Lord, out of honor to His Blessed Mother, took her, body and soul, into Heaven.  As such, Our Mother is greatest of all Saints and She enjoys the special privilege of being the first one to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is Our Lord who took Her up with Him and it is Our Lord who gives Her to us.  Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we also have a Mother in Heaven!  How gracious Our Lord is to us, indeed.
          As the Church began to grow, the news of Our Blessed Mother’s Assumption into Heaven spread.  Each new generation of Christians found ways to honor Her and show their love for Her.  Initially the “Memory of Mary” was only kept by those who lived in Jerusalem and Palestine.  After the Christians came out of the catacombs in the 4th century, Her memorial slowly began to spread like a ivy vine until by the Middle Ages devotion to Mary had grown into the magnificent festivals, feasts, and processions that marked Catholicism.  The Feast of the Assumption became, for the Church, the single most important feast honoring Our Blessed Mother.  Across the globe, there are cities named after this day and many Churches dating back hundreds of years.  Today some of the most celebrated holidays are centered around the hottest part of the summer and the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  In 1950, because the entire Catholic Church was so devoted to Mary and celebrating this feast, Pope Pius XII, declared the Assumption of Mary to be dogma—and thus a belief that all Christians must hold as Truth.
          For us, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, gives hope and promise.  Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, sends us Her motherly love and comfort from Heaven.  She is an example for us, that, on the Last Day, our earthly bodies will be glorified in Heaven, as Hers is.  Our hope is Her hope.  Just as She did on earth, Our Blessed Mother draws us closer to Our Lord.  She helps us to know Him better, to love Him better, to understand Him better.  What a great gift Our Lord has given us—His Mother!

          Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry poor banished children of Eve.  To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and, after this our exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.