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.

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.