Thursday, December 31, 2009

Celebrate A Catholic New Year

  1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.
  2. Be specific. Don’t use generalities. They don’t work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying “I am going to be more humble,” is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.
  3. Be simple. Don’t make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.
  4. Be reasonable. Don’t try to do too much at once. You won’t become a saint in one day. Remember: every soul has one MAJOR point upon which is hinged his or her entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws. Find out and work on improving that key point. You’ll see how everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.
  5. Be consistent. It’s far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!
  6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God’s grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God’s grace through Our Lady’s intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions
  7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.
  8. Write it down. It’s important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year. Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.
  9. Public expressions of faith. Don’t hide your faith. That’s just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You’ll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.
  10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:

“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nancy Pelosi: Free Will Trumps Catholic Church's Pro-Life Teachings on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor

Washington, DC ( -- The rift between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Catholic Church will likely grow thanks to new comments the abortion advocate made. Pelosi said in a new interview that the "free will" of women wanting abortions outweighs pro-life Catholic teachings. Click here for more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taking Fatima Seriously by Meeting the Witnesses

America Needs Fatima has republished John Haffert’s 1960 book, Meet the Witnesses, which contains the most complete collection of eyewitness testimonies to the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. In an era of rationalism and doubt, this is the book’s unique contribution to the many volumes written on Fatima. However, since the unfortunate death of Sister Lucy in 2005, Meet the Witnesses has become even timelier.

For decades, Sister Lucia’s very presence within the cloistered walls of her convent had reminded millions of Fatima and Our Lady’s requests made to the faithful: daily recitation of the rosary, sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, abandonment of sin, the Five First Saturdays devotion and reparation for the offenses committed against her Immaculate Heart. Sister Lucy’s presence also reminded Catholics worldwide of the chastisement that Our Lady predicted would ensue if her requests were not heeded.

Despite this reminder, people did not reform their lives. A consideration of the general decline of morals since 1917 begs the question: “Will the world have to be chastised before people will change?”

If so, it is good to think back to October 13, 1917. Three months earlier Our Lady had promised Lucy a miracle “so that all might see and believe.” The news had spread throughout Portugal and over 70,000 people traveled to the Cova da Iria to see what would happen. Atheists and probably even some Catholics ridiculed the “credulous” and “gullible” pilgrims.

In spite of these chides, Our Lady did work a miracle. Though some may have expected wonderful cures like those she worked at Lourdes, Our Lady astonished the crowd with a miracle so terrifying that many thought the end of the world had come.

Get this book by clicking here

The sun unexpectedly spun all over the sky and even plummeted towards the earth. Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, founder of the first TFP, wondered if the Miracle of the Sun might not indicate the magnitude of the chastisement unrepentant mankind is bringing on itself. Might other things “spiral” out of control and threaten the world with total destruction?

To encourage reflection on this miracle and hence on the Fatima message, we are offering Meet the Witnesses. The personal accounts it contains bring the Miracle of the Sun to life. They vividly project the image of the sun spinning in the sky and nearly crashing to earth. They cause readers today to echo the cry of the witnesses. In the depths of their souls, they too exclaim, “We believe!” Today, the book has become even more valuable, since God has called to Himself most of the witnesses Mr. Haffert interviewed.

Meet the Witnesses invites everyone to prepare diligently for serious trials in a world that deserves divine punishment. It challenges each one to strengthen his faith, increase his love and proclaim his unshakable certainty in Mary’s promise: “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

You can obtain a copy of this impressive book by clicking here

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A God So Small, Yet Infinite; Infinite, Yet So Small!

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Thus does Saint John's Gospel (1:14) announce the ineffably grand moment when the Son of God "dwelt among us" in order to manifest His glory.

Yet, how discreet, how humble, how hidden was this first step taken by the King of the universe along His path of suffering, struggle, and triumph!

Let us meditate on the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Gospel of Saint Luke (2:1-7).

And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.

And all went to be enrolled, everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Let us picture a poor wedded couple, dressed with simplicity and bound for Bethlehem, crossing the arid countryside of the Holy Land, an aridity alleviated only by a few streams and olive groves. Mary travels seated on a young donkey, while Joseph proceeds on foot pondering the words of the angel who revealed to him the miraculous character of his virgin spouse's pregnancy.

As they reach Bethlehem, the winter night falls. But no one receives them, "because there was no room for them in the inn."

Is it for them that there is no room, since they have no prestige? Prestige commonly comes, especially in decadent times, from money and concessions to the vices of the times and the spirit of the "world" (this spirit being understood in the sense the Gospels give it). But this holy couple is poor and gifted with a highly religious spirit -- virtues the "worldly" find particularly detestable.

Nevertheless, Saint Joseph and Our Lady descend from the highest lineage of Bethlehem of Judea. Saint Joseph is a prince of the House of David, and Our Lady likewise descends from the kings of Judea.

However, so decadent are the Chosen People that in their eyes Saint Joseph is nothing but a poor carpenter, while Our Lady, his relatively well-off cousin, has chosen to share his poverty.

What are they doing in Bethlehem?

They are obeying the decree of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who, certainly for vanity's sake, had ordered a census to ascertain how many were subject to his power.

The Prince of the House of David, in travelling to the city of his birth, manifests the glory of the foreign emperor. Saint Joseph is conquered, Caesar Augustus is the conqueror, and Bethlehem fails to recognize her illustrious children.

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Mary and Joseph, bearing the very Son of God, are rejected by their own people and are thus obliged to seek shelter in a cave inhabited by animals. So it is in the intimacy and isolation of that dwelling place for beasts that history's most important event up till that time unfolds: the Word of God made flesh in the most pure womb of Mary comes into the world.

* * *

Thus does one understand the kind of joy proper to the Nativity. A great solitude and deprivation, but at the same time,a great elevation. For over such misery descended riches without name, riches unlike any others on the face of the earth. The Child-God was wrapped in swathes of cloth and lying in a manger where animals feed.

None, save that couple, witness or know how to appreciate this scene of indescribable grandeur.

The highest glory is there present in a tender child who, crying, hungry and cold, extends his little arms towards his mother, requesting a little milk or a blanket to be covered. And Our Lady knows that it is the Creator who opens his arms unto her! The Sovereign of the universe cries, beseeching a bit of milk and warm clothing!

We can imagine the contrast between the supernatural ambience and the poverty of the grotto. There the Child Jesus is adored by all the angels in a magnificent choir, the celestial court celebrating the greatest feast up to then. Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, all with extraordinary brilliance give glory to God through the Nativity. That glory permeates the grotto discreetly, for it is necessary that those outside not take note, that only souls of faith perceive what is happening and only in intimacy. Our Lady is there reclining and praying as the most perfect soul in the history of mankind, save only for the divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Our Lady alone is worth more than all the souls before her, during her time and thereafter; more than all who existed, exist, and will exist until the end of the world. She alone is worth more than all the angels.

A short distance away, praying to the Child-God and to Our Lady, is the humble cabinetmaker, the deposed prince, obscured by history and by the misfortunes that befell his ancestors. That man received an honor proper to no one else: He was chosen to be the spouse of the mother of the Word Incarnate, the adoptive father of the very Son of God!

* * *

This takes place at midnight, when little moved in the ancient world. We can imagine the silence, the abandonment. The inhabitants of the nearby city of Bethlehem comfortably rest in their beds. Outside, even the livestock sleep while the Divine Infant is born. Everything is empty and darkness reigns. Only within that grotto does a small light flicker. Only that couple is there, they and the Child Jesus, the King of ages, the God-Man Himself.

This divine event takes place before few. The greatest of honors is born and resides entirely in a frail infant. The most important historical event up to that time comes to pass in secret. In such a way that the sole witnesses to that august scene desire to meditate, to remain silent, with more desire to feel the Nativity within themselves than to proclaim it in a loud and clear voice. It is the affectionate reverence of those who feel inadequate to render gratitude for the extraordinary honor of touching, in such an intimate way, so high a mystery coupled with pity and compassion for a God who consented to make Himself so small. How to express respect so great that it approaches fear, and tenderness so profound that it seems almost to liquefy the soul? Lofty veneration, then lofty adoration, finally, lofty tenderness.

This also seems to explain the nocturnal aspect of the Nativity. We cannot conceive of it taking place except at night. For darkness is necessary for radiating so discreet a light. Therein we find the joy characteristic of Christmas that hesitates to expand itself for fear of losing its delicacy and intimacy.

* * *

Thus does one understand why such Christmas carols such as "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night") are customarily sung in a low voice, almost as if to oneself. They are sung as if not to awaken the Child Jesus. This is one aspect of the genius of "Stille Nacht," composed by a simple German schoolmaster in the last century, yet now the preeminent Christmas carol of all ages. Hearing it we have the impression that the choir is in a corner of the cave of Bethlehem. The choir sings with such emotion, for it almost cannot help it, yet in a very low voice, so as not to disturb the Divine Infant nor the ineffable and almost internal song with which Our Lady is lulling her Son.

In this way one understands the thousand delicacies that emanate from "Silent Night" and the tenderness of the Nativity. It is a song expressive of a kind of compassion for Him who is being celebrated: How little this infinite God; how infinite this little God!

Centuries of Christian civilization were necessary that the most celebrated of Christmas songs might blossom like a flower in the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Onward, Christian Elephants?

It seems these elephants are part of the Church Miltant! I normally would not post something like this but it comes from the official archdiocesan web site in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In July 2008, a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22 year old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, mobs attacked churches, torched vehicles, houses of Christians destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes. Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.

In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.

These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms.

Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants.

Seven people have been killed and several others injured in attacks by a herd of 12-13 elephants over the past few weeks in Kandhamal district.

Over 2,500 people living in 45 villages have been affected by the attacks, district chief Krishen Kumar said.

It is, however, unclear why this herd of elephants migrated from the Lakheri sanctuary in a neighbouring district. He said the herd had travelled some 300km into Kandhamal, and even entered a town in the district. Wildlife officials were camping at the site of the attacks and trying to find out why the elephants had come out of their sanctuary. The villagers say elephants attack their areas in herds, causing heavy destruction.

Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes, demolishing gardens and singling out the home of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched.

These strange attacks have spread, and according to a report, the elephants have already destroyed more than 700 houses in 30 villages, and killed five people. Nobody in this area has seen or even imagined the unique appearance of a herd of wild elephants such as this. The elephants are not ordinary elephants; they appear to be on a mission.

Typically, smaller elephants enter a village first, appearing to survey the community. They then rejoin the larger herd, and larger elephant soon follow and get the job done.

The ministry partner in India stated “We think that it might have something to do with the avenging the blood of martyrs. In fact the fear of God has fallen on the local people, who have labeled these elephants “Christian elephants.”

With little help coming from the administration, the villagers have taken to road blockades. "The elephants have destroyed crops and selected houses. But officials too express helplessness. "There is no permanent habitat of elephants in Sundargarh. They come from Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where their habitats have shrunk. But is not clear how and why these elephants reached Orissa.

Here is the link to the Colombo archdiocese:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Same-Sex "Marriage" in the Land of Fatima?

LISBON, Portugal, December 18, 2009 ( - Portugal's Socialist government will seek to legalize same-sex "marriage," they announced yesterday.

At a news conference, Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira said the government will be putting forward a new bill that would strike current references to marriage as being between a man and a woman from Portuguese law. The proposal, he said, will likely be presented for debate in the Assembly of the Republic, the country's sole legislative chamber, in January.

While same-sex "marriage" is opposed by the opposition Social Democratic Party and other right-leaning parties, the Associated Press reports that the bill is "almost certain" to pass because the government is backed by all left-leaning parties, which form a majority in Parliament.

If passed, the bill must then be approved by President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who has the power of veto. While it has been reported that Silva opposes same-sex "marriage," he also supposedly opposes abortion, even though he approved the liberalization of Portugal's abortion law in 2007. Should he veto, Parliament could potentially override his decision.

The true definition of marriage was upheld in July by Portugal's Constitutional Court, which ruled 3-2 against two homosexual women seeking to challenge the law. They made their challenge on the grounds that Portugal's constitution forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The court responded, however, that the constitution does not state that same-sex "marriage" must be allowed.

The government's move follows a January announcement from Prime Minister Jose Socrates that he would seek to legalize same-sex "marriage." His comments provoked a strong reaction from the largely Catholic country, even from members within his own party.

"This is the moment for the PS, in its national congress, to affirm its desire to propose to Portuguese society the right to civil marriage for people of the same sex," he said.

Mario Soares, a founder of the Socialist Party and former Portuguese President, came out publicly against Socrates, saying that "homosexual marriages are complicated questions of conscience ... but there are certain radicals who want to move forward [with it] to show that they are leftist."

The Catholic bishops of Portugal responded to Socrates' comments by declaring their commitment to fight the attempted redefinition of marriage. Same-sex "marriage," said spokesman Fr. Manuel Morujao, "is an offense against marriage that is, by its nature, heterosexual." The movement to create "homosexual marriage," he continued, is a "threat" to Portuguese society and is moving along "an erroneous path."

"What are we going to say to the generations coming after us?" he asked. "That they can be whatever they want? That they can choose whatever they want to be from a menu of identities?"

The article above comes from

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Not Too Late!

It's Not Too Late to Give This Book to Your Loved Ones or Yourself For Christmas!
If you haven't already read or ordered this book, I urge you to do so today, and you still make receive your copy before Christmas.
Living in a time, as we do where a 'hero' is defined by their popularity, meeting a true American hero, in fact an "American Knight" is the perfect tonic to lift one's hopes for our country and inspire them to imitate the real virtues of Colonel Ripley.
An ardently devoted Catholic, he lived his Faith through his vocation as husband, father and soldier. While the lives of today's heroes appear to be a steeped in contradictions, in values and in Faith, Colonel Ripley's life was one of rock solid consistency no matter what role he assumed.
At the conclusion of the book, after you have had the opportunity to get to know him, you will find his testimony on homosexuals in the military and women on the battlefield. I encourage you to read it and unquestionably see how he applied the tenets of his Faith and his love of the Blessed Mother to every aspect of his life.
I hope you order and read this book, then join me in praying for the future of our country, echoing Colonel Ripley's prayer; "Jesus, Mary, get us there!"

Is Communism Really Dead?

We ask how it is possible for these protesters to fly the Soviet flag in Copenhagen.

They know that communism had dragged the nations under Moscow's yoke into such misery. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everyone had the opportunity to see the miserable situation in Russia and the captive nations. Why do they belong to a political party whose only achievement was to throw their own nations into this extreme poverty, slavery and disgrace.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Were the First Apparitions of Our Lady?

by Valdis Grinsteins
The Virgin of Covadonga is among the earlier appartions of Our Lady, in which She appeared to the monarch, Don Pelayo and inspired the reconquest of Spain from the Moors.

Recently, several books enumerating the apparitions of Our Lady were published in Italy. When I had the opportunity to take a look at them on a recent trip to Rome, I was surprised. While in one epoch, there were numerous apparitions, in another they were very rare; in one epoch the Holy Virgin appeared to one class of people, in another she appeared to an entirely different class. During the nineteenth century, there were very important and approved apparitions, for example Lourdes, but also an inflation of false ones, perhaps indicating that the devil had been given permission to confound souls as a chastisement for sin.

What I found most interesting was how these apparitions always served the most pressing needs of the Church. Thus, during the conquest and conversion of the Americas, Our Lady appeared many times to the Indians, helping the missionaries to catechize, baptize and civilize them. However, I have never heard of an apparition to support the “neomissionaries” of today, who are determined that the Indians remain in an unbaptized state of barbarity.

In the nineteenth century, there were various apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to the saint founders of religious congregations. These greatly aided the world-wide expansion of Catholicism. This era also saw apparitions linked to the diffusion of Marian devotions, like the miraculous medal.

As I read, I became eager to analyze one point with more detail: what was the purpose of the first apparitions of the Mother of God?

Our Lady appeared to St. James the Greater to instruct him to build a chapel in her honor.

Saints and the Privileged
The conversion of Spain was unimaginably difficult. Saint James, the Apostle, expended tremendous effort and suffered to convert the area’s long-enduring pagans. To encourage him, Our Lady, who was still living at the time, appeared to him on a pillar in the city of Cesaraugusta (currently Saragossa). She told him that in the future the faith of the Spanish people would be profound and serious. Very consoled, the Apostle continued his arduous work. The results of his labors are evident today. A considerable part of the Catholic Church prays in Spanish and Our Lady of the Pillar is the Patroness of Spain.

Technically speaking, this was not an apparition in the theological sense of the word, but rather a bilocation (being in two places at the same time), since Our Lady was still present on earth. Therefore, the following story can be considered the first true apparition of history.

All the Apostles were gathered in the Greek city of Ephesus, on the modern coast of Turkey. While beseeching the aid of the Most Holy Virgin regarding the various difficulties of the nascent Church, the Mother of God appeared, full of light, and promised never to abandon them. Since all the Apostles together represented the Church Hierarchy, this apparition can be seen as a promise that Our Lady would always aid the Church’s leadership. This help would be continually demonstrated throughout history.

The next apparition we will discuss seems to be intentionally geared to teach God’s ways to those who think that Church progress can only occur in spectacular, brilliant and immediate ways. On the contrary, the dissemination of this apparition could scarcely have happened in a slower and humbler way.

Around the year 70, a converted woman, living in Le Puy, in modern-day France, was gravely ill. After seeing Our Lady, she was cured and built a small chapel on the site of the apparition. Throughout history, other miracles were performed there, which gained a certain popularity for the shrine.

Pilgrimages to the shrine slowly grew until the nineteenth century, when a Church was built on the spot. After 1700 years, the shrine had slowly become a center for pilgrimages. The local bishops accepted the devotion, which represents perseverance throughout centuries rather than spectacular miracles or resounding revelations.

This is often how things happen in the Church. A little work is accomplished each day. Although this work seemingly bears no fruit, it conquers through perseverance and in the end gains success and a great good.

Apparitions and Doctrinal Disputes

After the era of persecution and martyrdom had ended, the devil, having been unable to destroy the Church through violence, sought to destroy Her by sullying Her doctrine with heresy.

Today, the logical, solid, consistent and admirable collection of Church teaching seems to be the most normal thing in the world. However, much effort, polemics and persistent study, all inspired by the Holy Ghost was necessary to arrive at this point.

For example, it took ten centuries to doctrinally express the sacraments with a clear and precise definition. One can hardly measure how much prayer, work and study was employed to achieve the admirable cathedral of church doctrines, many of which are only implicit in the Gospels and Tradition. It is not surprising that the devil wanted to introduce cracks in this doctrinal foundation. Thus, the heresies strove to topple the magnificent doctrinal building of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

To defend the Church, Our Lady appeared many times to the bishops, successors of the Apostles, in fulfillment of Her promise never to abandon them. Thus, She appeared twice to Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Mira: the first time, when he was named bishop, the second shortly after the Council of Nicea. Saint Nicholas, whose admirable charity we celebrate at Christmastime, was a great defender of Catholic doctrine concerning the divine nature of Our Lord.

Forty years later, the Virgin appeared to Saint Basil of Caesarea, the great defender of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Around the year 370, She appeared several times to Saint Martin, bishop of Tours, pledging Her assistance in the formation of future holy bishops, who would profoundly change France.

Today, many people have difficulty measuring the doctrinal importance linked to such apparitions. To them, philosophy and theology seem to be “vague” sciences, concerned with theoretical problems that are inconsequential to daily life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, as the Church strove to present the true doctrine of the Gospels on the nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, with clarity and precision, the devil attempted to show Him only as man or only as God. But if Our Lord were only man, the Catholic Church would not have a divine origin and if He were only God, it would empty the Redemption of meaning and render it inimitable by man.

One thing for sure is that from the days of the early Church to today (as seen in the apparitions at Fatima), Our Lady has always placed Herself at the center of the fight between good and evil.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe: She Who Smashes the Serpent

Written by Cesar Franco

Pope Pius XII gave Our Lady of Guadalupe the title of “Empress of the Americas” in 1945. Since December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this is a propitious moment to recall how she reigns over our nation from Heaven, protecting and guiding us with motherly solicitude and tenderness. The constant miracle memorialized on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma and the context of the apparitions remind us that Our Lady is victorious over the serpent, intervenes in history and is eager to intercede for those who seek her intercession in this vale of tears.

How Our Lady Intervened in History
The oldest reliable source of the apparitions of the Mother of God to Saint Juan Diego was written in Náhuatl by Antonio Valeriano. He was a contemporary of Saint Juan Diego and Bishop Frey Juan de Zumárraga. Mr. Valeriano’s account was published in 1649 and is known as the Nican Mopohua.

“My Holy One, my Lady, my Damsel, I am on my way to your house at Mexico-Tlatilulco; I go in pursuit of the holy things that our priests teach us.”

On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to attend Mass in what is today Mexico City. It was dawn as he approached Tepeyac Hill, a few miles from his destination. Juan Diego was no ordinary Indian, but the grandson of King Netzahualcoyotl, 1 and the son of King Netzahualpilic and Queen Tlacayehuatzin, who was a descendant of Moctezuma I.

As Juan Diego neared the hill’s summit, something extraordinary happened. Unseen birds began to sing in a supernatural way. The birds would pause while others responded, forming a heavenly duet. He thought he was perhaps dreaming and pondered how unworthy he was to witness something so extraordinary.

The heavenly symphony stopped and a sweet voice called him from the summit, “Juanito. Juan Diegito.” Hearing this, he happily ascended the hill. What he found upon reaching the source of the voice changed his life forever. There, on a rock, stood a beautiful lady. Everything around her was transformed. Her clothing was as radiant as the sun. The rock she stood upon seemed to emit rays of light. She was surrounded with the splendors of the rainbow. Cacti and other plants nearby looked like emeralds. Their spines sparkled like gold and their leaves were like fine turquoise.

Juan Diego bowed before her in ceremonious respect. A tender dialogue between Our Lady and Juan Diego followed, “Listen, xocoyote mio,2 Juan, where are you going?”

Rejoicing, he happily responded, “My Holy One, my Lady, my Damsel, I am on my way to your house at Mexico-Tlatilulco; I go in pursuit of the holy things that our priests teach us.”

The celestial lady revealed to him that she was indeed the Mother of God, telling him of her desire to have a church built, where she might bestow all her love, mercy, help and protection. She showed overflowing love to Juan Diego, “and to all the other people dear to me who call upon me, who search for me, who confide in me; here I will hear their sorrow, their words, so that I may make perfect and cure their illnesses, their labors and their calamities.”

Then Our Beloved Lady, respecting the authority established by God, sends the noble Juan Diego with this message to the bishop-elect of Mexico. She tells him to accomplish the mission diligently, promising to reward his services. He bows, telling her that he will go straightaway to fulfill her wishes, and departs.

Frey Juan de Zumárraga was one of the first twelve Franciscan missionaries to go to Mexico and the first bishop of that new land. When Juan Diego reached the bishop’s palace, he promptly announced he wished to deliver a message for the bishop. The servants made Juan Diego wait before allowing the audience. Obediently, and with great enthusiasm, he told the bishop what he had seen and heard. Bishop Zumarraga listened attentively, but told Juan Diego to return when they could discuss the matter at greater length. After all, how did he know the story was true?

Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac Hill. As he approached the hill, Our Lady was waiting for him. He drew near and knelt. With sadness, he told Our Lady that he failed in his mission. The marvelous dialogue continues, “My Holy One, most noble of persons, my Lady, my xocoyota, my Damsel . . . .”

Juan Diego explained why he failed, how unworthy he was for such a mission and how the bishop was suspicious. Our Lady listened tenderly and patiently as he suggested she send one of the well-known and respected lords of the land. Then, he thought, her message would be believed.

Our Lady was not persuaded. She wanted him to accomplish the mission, and said, “I pray you, my xocoyote, and advise you with much care, that you go again tomorrow to see the bishop and represent me; give him an understanding of my desire, my will, that he build the church that I ask . . . .”

Juan Diego did not fear the difficulties of the mission, he was only afraid the mission would not be accomplished. However, he told Our Lady he would fulfill her command and return the following evening with the bishop’s reply.

“And now I leave you, my xocoyota, my Damsel, my Lady; meanwhile, you rest.” Juan Diego suggested that Our Lady rest! It is impressive that she not only allowed him to treat her this way, but also loved his candidness.

The next day, he traveled to Mass. Afterward, he went directly to the bishop’s palace, fell on his knees and repeated all that Our Lady had told him. The bishop, in turn, asked questions about the lady. Not entirely convinced, however, the bishop told Juan Diego that he could not affirm that the apparition was Our Lady and asked for a sign of reassurance from Our Lady to build a church.

Juan Diego confidently stated he would ask Our Lady for a sign. The bishop agreed, and sent a few servants to follow Juan Diego and report on everything he did. But they lost him and could not find him. They returned annoyed, speaking poorly of him to the bishop. They even resolved to seize and punish Juan Diego when he appeared again.

Juan Diego should have returned with the sign on Monday, but when he returned home, his uncle Juan Bernadino was seriously ill. His health worsened throughout Monday night, and on early Tuesday morning asked Juan Diego to call a priest. The nephew obediently went, making sure his route did not pass near Tepeyac Hill as he feared Our Lady would see him and persuade him to continue the mission she entrusted to him. So he took a shortcut he thought concealed him from Our Lady.

Stealthily advancing along, he was discovered by Our Lady, who descended the slope and asked, “Xocoyote mio, where are you going? What road is this you are taking?”

Caught red-handed, Juan Diego replied diplomatically, “My daughter, my xocoyota, God keep you, Lady. How did you waken? And is your most pure body well, perchance?” Then he explained his predicament, “My Virgin, my Lady, forgive me, be patient with me until I do my duty, and then tomorrow I will come back to you.” One cannot help but smile while imagining Juan Diego, in his simplicity, asking Our Lady to wait until he returned the next day after helping his dying uncle.

The Mother of God responded affectionately, “Do not be frightened or grieve, or let your heart be dismayed; however great the illness may be that you speak of, am I not here, I who am your mother, and is not my help a refuge?”

She told him his uncle was already cured. Juan Diego rejoiced, and asked her to give him the sign that the bishop wanted. She told him to go to the hilltop and cut the flowers he would find. Then, he was to bring them back to her. It was December, and only cacti and a few other sparse plants grew on the hill. However, Juan Diego found Castilian roses in abundance there and delighted in their fragrance. He carefully cut several, wrapping them in his tilma or cloak made of cactus fiber. He returned to Our Lady and she tenderly arranged them inside his tilma with her own hands, and commanded him to go to the bishop and show him the sign he was waiting for. She also told him not to open his tilma for anyone but the bishop.

Bishop Juan de Zumárraga
He made haste to Bishop Zumárraga, confident now that he would accomplish Our Lady’s designs. Along the way, the wonderful fragrance of the roses pleased him. At the bishop’s palace, he was left waiting for a long time. The servants saw him as a nuisance and made him wait until it was very late, and even demanded to see what was in his tilma. Because he refused to show them, they pushed and knocked him about. When he perceived he would not see the bishop unless he showed them something, he let them peek in the tilma.
Seeing and smelling the celestial roses, the servants made three attempts to take some. At each attempt, the roses miraculously became part of the tilma as if they were painted. With this, they ushered Our Lady’s ambassador in to see the bishop. Juan Diego knelt down and began to explain all he saw and heard from Our Lady. The bishop listened intently. To prove what he said was true, he untied his tilma and let the roses fall to the ground. Those watching fell to their knees in silent amazement. Miraculously imprinted on the tilma was Our Lady’s perfect image. Recalling their disbelief and mistreatment of the Blessed Mother’s ambassador, the servants were shamed.

Bishop Zumarraga tearfully took the tilma from Juan Diego, placed it in his private chapel, and entreated Juan Diego to stay with him for the night in the palace. The next day, with a crowd following behind them, the two went to the site where Our Lady wanted her church built. Juan Diego gave a detailed account of the apparitions. Then they went to see Juan Bernadino and check on the state of his health.

She Who Smashes the Serpent
Juan Bernadino was surprised to see his nephew accompanied by the bishop and a crowd of admirers. Naturally, he asked what was happening. The miracle was told again and Juan Bernadino acknowledged that he was cured. Our Lady appeared to him and cured him. She told him of her desire to be called Santa María de Guadalupe. Guadalupe in Spanish corresponds phonetically to Coatlaxopeuh in Náhuatl, which means “I smashed the serpent with the foot.”

The bishop then displayed the tilma in the Cathedral of Mexico for public veneration, and called on all to help in the construction of the new church, which was completed on December 26, 1531. On that day, a great procession was made from the cathedral to the new church. Spaniards and Indians, ecclesiastical and imperial officials alike, accompanied Our Lady of Guadalupe to her new shrine. The Indians performed war dances in her honor, and covered the whole path to Tepeyac Hill with flowers.

Amid the festive rejoicing, an overzealous Indian fired an arrow, mortally piercing the throat of another Indian. There were cries and sobs over the dead Indian. Then, inspired by grace, all began to ask that his lifeless body be placed in front of the tilma. As everyone began to invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe’s help, the dead Indian came back to life, his throat instantly healed. Everyone cheered as he rose to his feet. Strengthened by the miracle, the procession resumed and the image was placed in the new shrine.

Miracles That Defy Science

Since the tilma is made of cactus fiber, it should have disintegrated after 20 years. However, it has survived from 1531 until the present day without cracking or fading. Scientists cannot explain how this is possible. In the 18th century, Dr. José Ignácio Bartolache had two copies of the image made and placed where the original was. After several years, the two copies deteriorated.

Over time, the faithful have tried to “embellish” the tilma. A crown was painted on Our Lady’s head and angels in the clouds. However, unlike the tilma, these additions have worn away and are no longer visible. The rays of the sun, for example, were coated with gold and the moon plated with silver. These embellishments also faded away. In fact, the silver-plated moon turned black.

Scientists are baffled how the image was imprinted on the tilma. There are no brush strokes or sketch marks on it. Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, ascertained that Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image does not contain natural, animal or mineral pigments. The tilma defies natural explanation.

At the Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City, a stone sail ship monument is visible near the chapel on the hill. The landmark commemorates a miracle that took place in 1565 when General Miguel López de Legazpi was returning from the Philippines and his ship was engulfed by a tempest. On the verge of sinking, the crew in desperation made a vow to Our Lady of Guadalupe; if she saved them, they would carry their last remaining sail to her on pilgrimage. The storm abated and they fulfilled their promise.

The greatest miracle was that eight million Indians converted in only seven years following the apparitions. The early Franciscan and Dominican missionaries were busy night and day baptizing and administering the Sacraments. On average, over three thousand Indians a day were baptized throughout the seven years.

Symbolism of the Tilma

The miraculous tilma is like a catechism class for the Mexican Indians. Our Lady, as she appears, eclipses the sun, showing her superiority over the Aztec sun god. She stands on the moon, trampling the Aztec moon god under foot. She is surrounded by clouds and attended by an angel, showing that she is not of this earth. Yet her hands are folded in supplication and her head is tilted in a position of humility, thus showing that while she tramples the pagan gods, she is not God. Around her neck, she wears a brooch with a cross, leading mankind to the Supreme Being, the God of the Christians.

May the goodness and tenderness Our Lady showed to Saint Juan Diego encourage our readers to have more devotion to her. Like every good mother, she is also the implacable foe of those who inflict harm on her children. Therefore, she is our special aid in the struggle against evil today. Let our battle cry be “¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!” (“Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”)


1. Netzhualcoyotl is famous in Mexican history as a warrior, philosopher and poet. Analyzing the order of nature, he deduced the existence of only one, invisible God, the Creator of all things, Whom he adored by burning incense and in Whose honor he composed sixty psalms of praise similar to those by King David. He disliked human sacrifice and the worship of pagan gods. (Cf. Juan Antonio Montalvo, “Plática sobre la Virgen de Guadalupe,” in Historica, órgano del Centro de Estudios Guadalupanos, AC, Colección II, México, Editorial Hombre S. de R.L., 1983, 7, 8.) [back]
2. This Náhuatl word means “smallest of my sons.” Xocoyota is the feminine for daughter. [back]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Over Two-Thirds of All Abortion Clinics Have Closed Since 1991

WICHITA, KS, December 8, 2009 ( - Operation Rescue has just released the results of an extensive research project into the abortion industry showing that the number of abortion facilities continues to dwindle as Americans become more pro-life.

"We now have an accurate listing of every open abortion clinic in the country," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "In 1991, it was estimated that there were nearly 2,200 abortion clinics in the country, today there are just 713. The pro-life movement has made significant strides exposing and closing abortion clinics and shifting public opinion toward the pro-life position. This has resulted in lower abortion rates."

Operation Rescue has listed all abortion facilities along with a map showing their locations. The information shows a general relationship between access to abortion clinics and the abortion rate in each state. With few exceptions, the states with greater access to abortion clinics have higher abortion rates.

The release of the list launches "Project Daniel 5:25," Operation Rescue's latest campaign to expose abortion industry abuses and bring the perpetrators to justice. Project Daniel 5:25 is named after the Biblical story of Daniel, who was able to read the handwriting on the wall and predict the fall of a wicked kingdom.

"The days of legal abortion in this nation are numbered. Pro-life sentiment continues to gain ground as abortion support slips. Abortion clinics continue to close as demand decreases and as abortionists are increasingly exposed and reported to the authorities by pro-life groups," said Newman.

"Project Daniel 5:25 encourages those with pro-life views to establish a presence at their local abortion clinic to pray and offer help to abortion-bound women - but also to monitor the clinic for criminal violations and other suspicious acts. We have never found an abortion clinic that follows the law. It is up to pro-life activists to serve as the watchdogs of the abortion industry and be the eyes and ears of law enforcement.

"We can do more than simply protest abortion clinics. We can document their illegal and dangerous behavior and work within the law to close them down.

"With a pro-life watchdog group at every clinic reporting what they see to the authorities, we will certainly see more abortionists criminally charged and abortion clinics closed. We know first-hand from having our offices in a closed former abortion clinic, that when clinics close, lives are saved."

Those who wish to participate in Project Daniel 5:25 are encouraged to call Operation Rescue at 1-800-705-1175.
Read the report, and view the map and list here.

The article above comes from

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Desecrating the Holy Eurcharist is Hate Speech!

Send your instant e-petition today!

The online video sharing site YouTube is host to some very sick, blasphemous and disturbing videos, which contain brutal attacks on the Holy Eucharist. Perhaps the most disturbing video of all is the one titled: Desecrating the Eucharist by smoking Jesus body.

It is followed by this caption: “Eucharist desecration. You Catholics are truly going to love this one. More is on its way.”

It was posted on YouTube by user name antieucharist. And it shows people in a mock Catholic ritual of sorts burning and stepping on the Holy Eucharist. (Access with extreme caution: You can find it under his user)

Beneath the offensive video are a series of viewer comments about the video Desecrating the Eucharist by smoking Jesus body. One tried to minimize the gravity of the video with this comment:

“I know you are just kids having fun, but you do not understand what you are doing. I made fun of the same thing when I was a teen. There is much more to it than you realize.”

Although we have no way of knowing for sure if this is a Consecrated Host, the answer of user antieucharist indicates his intent in desecrating the Eucharist:

“…you are incorrect. We are not kids just having fun. We are fully aware of what we are desecrating."

And in an answer to another viewer, he wrote:

“We are well aware of the Eucharist’s status, and that’s why we chose it.”

That’s why America Needs Fatima is urging Catholic across the globe to send a:

Stop Host Desecration e-petition to YouTube.

To make this petition effective, America Needs Fatima is asking its membership to pray and to help mobilize one million Catholics worldwide on the Internet without delay.

If thousands of Catholics pray and speak up, there’s a chance YouTube will enforce its policy and remove these sacrilegious attacks on the Holy Eucharist. YouTube policy says:

We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech …

Desecrating the Holy Eucharist is “hate speech” in our book.

Please pray and send YouTube your STOP HOST DESECRATION e-petition today.

To help America Needs Fatima mobilize one million Catholics worldwide on the Internet without delay, please click here to make a donation. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paralyzed Man Was Awake for 23 Years

A paralyzed Belgian man who spent the past 23 years incorrectly diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, was fully conscious and could hear everything around him the entire time. This certainly sheds a lot of light on the Terri Schiavo controversy.
For more, use these links:

Doctors Find Paralyzed Man Was Awake for 23 Years, Not in Vegetative State

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Call to Gratitude: Who Will Thank Our Heroes?

A Statement of the American TFP on the occasion of the SOA Watch protest

For nearly twenty years, a crowd has gathered at Fort Benning in mid-November to protest against the activities of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the School of the Americas) and demand its closure.

The annual event is more than just a protest. It is a gathering of the scattered fringes of the religious, political and cultural left that use the event as a platform to push ideas that range from drug legalization to abortion or even women’s ordination. Leftist Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois leads this gathering which includes a large collection of socialists, liberation theology advocates and anarchists. It is no surprise that the 71-year-old priest automatically incurred excommunication for openly opposing Catholic Church doctrine. For nearly twenty years, both he and his protesters have resisted the U.S. Army’s efforts to “dialogue.”

They reject outright the Army’s unconditional offers to open its doors to any who wish to review the school’s operation.

Nearly twenty years of protest calls to mind another twenty-year milestone – the fall of the Berlin Wall. In light of this commemoration, we offer some considerations.

A Continued Danger
On the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we might be tempted to think that the world’s great military dangers have passed. However, that is not the case. We still live in a world of violence and uncertainties. Our enemies are no longer concentrated behind an Iron Curtain but are scattered about the world in the form of radical groups and rogue nations all too willing to threaten the peace.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, one would hope that at least the outdated Marxist ideas that caused so much misery all over the world would be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, that is not the case. Guerrilla groups in Latin America like Colombia’s FARC still cling to subversive Marxist ideas, causing violence and bloodshed. There is still Stalinist North Korea, poverty-stricken Cuba and communist China oppressing its people and trampling on human natural rights. There is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela exporting his Bolivarian socialist revolution across Latin America - including the building of a nuclear program.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be hoped that the terrors of our age might also fall. However, that is not the case. Terror or the threat of terror lives as the tactic of choice among Islamic radicals who can be found in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan or Palestine. Iran's mullahs stand ready to develop nuclear arms. Suicide bombers strike terror into whole nations and put fear into the hearts of thousands who might become the next innocent victims.

Pacifists Do Not Keep the Peace
Now more than ever, we need the soldier to keep the peace.

We note, however, that it was not the pacifists that brought down the Berlin Wall. Theirs was a constant message of concession, “dialogue,” and defeat.

When the terrible wall came crashing down, these Marxists were nowhere to be found to condemn the massive misery that lay exposed in those communist countries. They did not renounce their adherence to this system which they fought so hard to impose upon the West.

We tend to forget that it was the soldier that helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall. The soldier took upon himself the thankless task of confronting evil by force of arms. It was the soldier that risked all to do his duty wherever he was called to go without hesitation or complaint. The American soldier and his counterparts all over the world stood down the communist threat in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

His services are no less needed in our days.

Thank the Heroes
Thus, we need to thank – not protest – these heroes who put their lives on the line. These heroes guarantee the peace. We live freely because they made the greatest of sacrifices – even that of life itself.

We remember Medal of Honor heroes like Specialist Ross A. McGinnis, trained at Fort Benning, who distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when he threw himself upon a fragmentation grenade and saved four soldiers from certain serious injury or death in Iraq in December of 2006. We remember Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, who likewise unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals on September 29, 2006.

We can also remember heroes like the late Col. John W. Ripley whose heroism in Vietnam was legendary. These and so many more make up those legions of heroes that deserve not our scorn but our gratitude.

Where Will They Turn?
There are those who protest against the soldier. They see his role as one buttressing structures of oppression and power. They are ready to unfairly label those who still fight against Marxism as murderers and assassins. They turn a blind eye to a ruthless enemy who breaks all rules and conventions as Marxists have always done. They would deny defenseless populations the training and tools needed to defend themselves against this enemy.

In the case of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the protesters ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of its graduates have committed no crime, unless it is a crime to keep their countries safe and free. They are prepared to amplify any alleged crime of a soldier to gigantic proportions while reducing to nothing the blatant abuses of Marxists in countries like Cuba, China, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

We ask those who protest: When the fury of the terrorists turns upon them, who will they appeal to? When their freedom is taken away with the same disregard as Colombia’s FARC guerrillas take the freedom of their innocent hostages, where will they turn? When their right to protest is met with bullets and tanks like that of Tiananmen Square, who will be there to defend them?

They will turn to the soldier who defends even those who calumniate him.

A Call to Gratitude
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls upon the public to thank the heroes.

Let us thank them for standing up to the Soviet menace that lurked behind the Berlin Wall that fell twenty years ago. Let us thank those who still fight and keep our nation safe and help other nations do likewise.

Let us, of course, censure any abuses, but let us also be consistent and condemn the systemic and widespread abuses that have come from Castro’s Cuba, the FARC guerillas and other leftist movements that still uphold the outdated and iniquitous Marxist ideologies that built the infamous Berlin Wall.

As Americans, let us be proud of our heroes as they continue to fight and train others to defend their nations against those who threaten the peace.

May God protect them and their families in their daily battles around the world.

November 18, 2009

The American TFP

“The grandeur of a nation can be measured by the esteem
and admiration it has for its military.” – Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

St. Louis University Professor Comments on the Crusades

Some time ago, the TFP's Crusade Magazine did an interview with accomplished medieval historian Professor Thomas Madden of St. Louis University, to dispel some common myths concerning the Crusades. We feel his comments are still very timely. The text of this interview is transcribed below.

1. Some authors contend the Crusades were wars of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. What is your position in this matter?

It is difficult to see how anyone familiar with the sources could make such a claim. The original goal of the First Crusade, as it was annunciated in the papal call as well as numerous crusader charters, was to respond to Muslim aggression against Christians in the East and to restore those lands taken by Muslims to their Christian owners.

2. Many adversaries of the Crusades claim that, although Crusaders wore crosses and religious symbols, their only goal was to gain riches and territories. What is your opinion on the matter?

This is a fairly old-fashioned view, now largely rejected by scholars. It was based on a Victorian experience with colonialism that has no relationship at all to the medieval Crusades. We now know that crusading was almost never profitable. Crusaders often impoverished themselves and their families in order to pay for their expeditions. Whatever booty they received (and the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder) was more than offset by their expenses. The vast majority of Crusaders had no interest in remaining in the East, but rather fulfilled their vows and returned home as soon as they were able.

During the interview, Prof. Madden declared: "I have no doubt that had there been no Crusades at all that western Europe would have been conquered by Muslims in much same fashion as southeastern Europe was."

3. Some accuse the Crusades of being a sort of medieval colonialism disguised in religious trappings. Is this true and could you comment on this?

Colonialism, if it is to have any meaning at all, requires certain things: most importantly a mother country that funds and directs the colonial expansion, a colonial government linked to a home government, and policy of colonization or exploitation in the colony. The Crusades had none of these things. No mother country supported the Crusades. Rather they were funded and undertaken by individuals across Christendom for the benefit of their souls and their co-religionists overseas. The governments in the Crusaders States were independent, with no direct ties to any European countries. And the Europeans had no policy of colonization or exploitation in the East. Rather, the overriding purpose of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was to safeguard the Holy Places and the lives of Christian pilgrims coming to visit them.

4. Is the following thesis historically defensible: Although the West lost political control over the Holy Land and the near East after the seventh and last Crusade, the effort Christians made from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries broke the impetus of the Muslim offensive against Europe and thus prevented the European continent from becoming Islamic back in medieval times.

No, on several counts. The Seventh Crusade was by no means the last Crusade. They continued well into the sixteenth century. The famous Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was a Crusade. Catholics did lose the mainland, but they held onto Cyprus and Rhodes for centuries. I believe it is fair to say, however, that the Crusades did slow the advance of Muslim Empires – namely the Ottoman Empire – into Europe just long enough to allow Europeans to effectively defend themselves. I have no doubt that had there been no Crusades at all that western Europe would have been conquered by Muslims in much same fashion as southeastern Europe was.

5. The Fourth Crusade is one of the most maligned of the Crusades. This is the Crusade you have studied in depth. Could you comment on some of the myths about the Fourth Crusade?

The biggest myth is that the Crusade was purposely diverted from its original goal – either by Pope Innocent III or Doge Enrico Dandolo – in order to conquer Constantinople. In fact, on several occasions the pope forbade the crusaders to go to Constantinople and once they were there, forbade them to attack the city. It is also not true that the Crusaders were led to Constantinople by a hatred of the Greeks or an envy of their empire. Instead, they came to Constantinople at the invitation of a Greek claimant to the throne, who promised to help them on their Crusade. The Crusaders only attacked Constantinople after their Greek friend double-crossed them, refusing to pay their reward or to join the Crusade. Even then, they only initiated hostilities when the Greeks murdered their former friend and ordered the Crusaders to leave immediately without reward, support, or even food. The Fourth Crusade is a tragedy, but it is one in which the Greeks and Latins both played important parts.

Attacks on Rosary for Life in Toulouse

This is an impressive video of young pro-lifer activists praying in the public square in Toulouse, France. They hold a banner which says "Abortion is murder." The counter-protesters are shouting obscenities and throwing eggs at the Catholics praying the rosary.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Tale of an Ungrateful City

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
(Orginally published on May 10, 1970 in the Folha de S. Paulo )

Scene: A small town having all of the conventional characteristics of a small town: a central public square leading to a graceful church with stained-glass windows, a tower, bells, and a clock; across from the church, a water fountain; then, the homes, modest but comfortable; nearby, adjacent to one narrow street, an elementary school; then, more narrow streets, all of them blending into the peaceful green pastures at a distance; and not so far away, a dark forest, from which wild boars and packs of wolves come out with a certain frequency.

First character: A teacher, who instructs with angelic tenderness and patience. She is tall, alert, modest, and unpretentious.

Second character: A young shepherdess, who leaves early every morning to take her sheep to pasture. She is youthful, pure, loving, and at ease with isolation and prayer.

He has a hard job indeed, consisting of long journeys and tiring vigils.
Third character: The hunter. He is not an inexperienced amateur, but a modest public servant, who is called from time to time to recruit the most courageous men in the small town and lead them into the dark forest to combat the voracious animals. It is a hard job indeed, consisting of long journeys and tiring vigils. He is between 20 and 30 years old, strong and powerful, a leader made for the job. His hair is thick and bushy; his walk, firm and heavy; his handshake, strong, enabling one to feel the calluses on his fingers. Early in the morning, one may see him coming back from a hunt, frequently carrying upon his shoulders a dead animal, still dripping warm blood. He is jovial and dedicated, and ever since he accepted the job, not a single wolf has come into the town, nor has a wild boar destroyed the crops. When he crosses the central public square, the comments that are made about him are not all identical. Some find him agreeable, appreciating his happy and youthful courage and his frank and masculine outlook. But others resent him. His presence in town makes them uncomfortable, especially when he recalls some of the unpleasant dangers he faces in the forest. The coldness with which he hunts, corners, wounds, and then kills animals blurs the vision of these persons, making it difficult for them to perceive the kindness of his soul. To see him happily carrying the blood-dripping body of an animal in the exercise of his brave profession, raises in the minds of some of his fellow residents the impression that he might be capable of spilling the blood of anything, even a human being. To sum the whole matter up, to some he appears to be the personification of masculinity, dedication, and talent; to others, he is a hideous image of fighting, violence, and war.

Fourth character: The grandfather. He looks his role, having a long white beard, deep clear eyes, and shaky and bony hands. He is a little deaf.

Fifth character: A retired businessman. He is between 50 and 60 years old, a little too fat, with beady eyes which move constantly. He is always changing the tone of his voice. At times it is serene; at other times, harsh; and at other times, almost whispering. He has traveled many places, analyzed many things, and become a little rich. He is the boss of the town, having solid contacts in all of the neighboring towns and villages. Through his hands pass all of the significant decisions, and everyone goes to him for advice about serious matters. By being in contact with him, everyone learns what is happening outside of the village and region.

Setting: A bar, small and crowded, where a subject of conversation has been established, and ideas about it are passing from one table to the next.

Theme: Everyone is talking about the main events of the year, and the conversation leads to the question of who is the most popular person in town?

There are many opinions. Some say it is the beautiful young shepherdess. When she leaves with her flock, she appears to be going out to meet her enchanted prince, so graceful and delicate is she.

When she returns slightly tired, she draws sympathy from all, as she symbolizes in a charming way the hardships of the pastoral work in which the residents of the region are engaged.

Others choose the teacher. To them, she represents learning, wisdom, culture, the wonderful goods of the spirit, and the opening of new opportunities for future generations. She is more than an agent of economic production; she is a factor of human edification. To them, she is a shepherdess of children, which should be worth more than to be the shepherdess of sheep. They recall the tenderness with which she conducts the children toward the central public square, to lead them in prayer, with the sound of the bells announcing the end of the activities of the day. They also recall the way she leads, afterwards, the children in play, around the fountain, singing and skipping, before taking them back to their homes.

Nobody knows with certainty whom to choose. There is not a person who fails to appreciate both of them. But soon the leaders of two trends of thought begin to appear, seeking the answer to a higher problem. Which is worth more: the prosperity symbolized by the one, or the knowledge symbolized by the other? And from another point of view, which deserves the greater honor: the grace of the shepherdess, or the sweet seriousness of the teacher? These are universal problems, problems of all times, which for this very reason arouse great interest.
When the shepherdess leaves with her flock, she appears to be going out to meet her enchanted prince, so graceful and delicate is she.

During a lull in the discussion, the voice of the grandfather is heard: "What about heroism? It too has its merit. It is a merit which we must take into consideration if we are going to be fair. We are talking about merits, aren't we? As you all know, I was a soldier. I could feel the wonder of the wind that lifted our enthusiasm in the hours of combat. We fought hard so that the normal life of labor, prayer, study, and rest might continue: the shepherds leading their sheep to pasture, the teachers instructing their pupils, the wives preparing their homes for their husbands returning from work, and the churches raising prayers for the glory of God in the highest of heavens and for peace on earth to men of good will. We fought so that the principles of justice and charity, upon which the whole Christian order is based, would not be violated by an aggressor and enemy. Our souls became enlarged proportionately to the ideal for which we were fighting. Our temper became stronger than steel, and our courage greater than the wild boar or the voracious wolf. We would go forth happily to fight, to wound, and to kill, knowing that we might be wounded and even die. The ideal was everything.

Oh, how wonderful was that ideal, how beautiful the fight in its sacred grandeur."

The old man was standing up now. His deep voice could be heard in the silence of the room. No one imagined that such a frail figure could monopolize the attention of the participants in the room as he did. Then, the old man, becoming tired, sat down. His last words: "I propose that you go beyond the teacher and the shepherdess, and also consider if there is a place for the name of our hunter of wild beasts. Couldn't there be a place of honor for someone who is a hero?"

There was emotion and a certain uneasiness among the listeners. They recalled that some days ago the parish priest made a sermon in which he spoke about these words of Our Lord: "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friend."

* * *

The debate continued, and the parties were still divided. But now everyone was either for or against the heroic guardian. Those who were against him no longer cared whether the shepherdess or the teacher won first place. All that they wanted now was to keep the guardian from getting the place of honor. But there were others who were convinced that it was indispensable to honor the hero.

As was usual in that small town, when the time arrived to make the important decision, the businessman took the floor. Everyone turned toward him, and, little by little, that ever-changing voice began to be heard. He touched everyone's heart when he enthusiastically praised the mission of the shepherdess. They were all convinced when he spoke about the importance of culture. And at last, as if pronouncing the final verdict, addressing himself to the old man, he said he respected him, but the days of fighting were gone. The world would one day proceed and indeed had already begun to fuse all religions, all races, and all peoples. Intelligent men could have nothing but horror for the spilling of blood. The fact that someone, upon being hired, had accepted the mission of killing wild animals, was a sad necessity, but to place fighting and the pre tense of heroism on the same level with culture and economic production was an anachronism. The businessman concluded by proposing the removal of the name of the slayer from the list, but at the same time asked all to show their esteem for the old man by giving him a hand.

Everyone clapped his hands. Only a few appeared unhappy.

It was late, and they decided to leave.

The next morning no one saw the hunter at the square. They didn't see him any time after that either. He had decided to move to other lands, far away, to become rich doing something less dangerous. And the small town forgot about the incident.

Next year the number of wild boars and voracious wolves increased a little. The year after that, their number increased still more. In the third year, the number of farms decreased. Some children had been made orphans and some families had become poor.

The retired businessman complained: "How can one live in such a place?" And he moved away.

As for the small town, it continued to decay and to die.

* * *

What should this story be called? What title should be given to this article?

"Peace, Culture, and Heroism?" Or maybe, "Ungratefulness and Punishment?" I don't know. Maybe we could call it, "The Crime of the Villianous Demagogue." Another idea, "The Hawks and the Doves;" perhaps this would be the best.

The reader may choose for himself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bishop Tobin's Public Letter to Rep. Kennedy

We reproduce with permission the following courageous letter from Bishop Tobin. The text comes from

Dear Congressman Kennedy:

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)

Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to

other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.

For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.

For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says this: “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” (#87)

Or consider this statement of the Church: “It would be a mistake

to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)

There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”

But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it thisway: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?

Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.

Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?

In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Tobin

Bishop of Providence

Monday, November 9, 2009

Saint John Fisher: Catholic Hero Amid Softness

st_john_fisherWritten by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Saint John Fisher was a martyr, cardinal and bishop of Rochester, England. Henry VIII ordered him beheaded out of hatred for both the Catholic faith and the primacy of the Roman Pontiff in the sixteenth century.

He was entirely isolated due to the general apostasy of the Catholic Church in England. We can draw parallels with the apostasies caused by modernism since history repeats itself. A great process of apathy, lukewarmness and indifference always prepares the Catholic masses for the greatest of apostasies.

The attitude of Saint John Fisher, who was a companion of Saint Thomas More in martyrdom, appears all the more laudable as he was entirely isolated in his time. Indeed, there was a general apostasy from the Catholic Church in England; and one of the most horrific aspects of the Protestant revolt there was precisely the indolence and ease with which the bulk of English Catholics went over to Protestantism.

In other words, out of mere political interest, career advancement or personal convenience, many Catholics infamously switched religions and did so with total normality and without traumas or problems of conscience. This proves that the religious structure of England was rotten at the time, a rottenness that had already been present in the time of Saint Thomas Becket.

The fact that Saint John Fisher was killed and that the movement he led was defeated, led to a crisis which placed the Anglican Church in the hands of the Henry VIII. Thus, it made a pact with the softness and advantages ogiven by the world. It accepted secularization. Having been prepared beforehand by a long process of decadence, the Church in England fell when it entered into schism with the Pope.

Not all the Church fell. There were some martyrs who were exceptions. Actually, they were a little more numerous than commonly reported. In addition to Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, there were other martyrs, such as the Carthusian fathers beheaded by order of the king. Even so, the number of martyrs was very small.

We can draw some conclusions from all these facts. We need to see that these processes start considerably beforehand, and how successive treasons prepare great catastrophes. A few centuries separate Saint Thomas Becket and Henry VIII, and yet a putrefaction process had begun already at the time of Saint Thomas Becket which prepared the Church to fall as a whole. When the occasion of temptation finally arrived, all were dragged down completely.

This is something similar to the contemporary crisis in the Church. In other words, before moderism appeared, there was a “molding” process which formed Catholic opinions that came from the inertia in face of the erroneous doctrines of the French Revolution. There was an adhesion without reservation to democratic ideas that were impregnated with the spirit of Rousseau. There was an adhesion to the idea of separation of Church and State; a slothful and short-sightedness in light of the growing modern atmosphere that gradually invaded society.

This gradually gave rise to apathy, doctrinal indifference and sympathy for all kinds of errors. This state of affairs naturally prepared a highly combustible environment that would explode when the first flame of moderism would arise. We can see how history repeats itself and the great processes of apathy, lukewarmness and indifference prepare the Catholic masses for the greatest apostasies.

At the same time, we see a beautiful note of sanctity that remains in the Church despite this sadness and betrayal. Martyrs are still found in the Church. It is still in the Church that we find men with admirable character who are willing to suffer anything rather than give in to the adversary. There are souls who are willing to risk their own lives and property in order to remain faithful to true tradition and ecclesiastical continuity.

Thus, even when putrefaction invades Catholic circles, the sanctity of the Church produces fruits; exceptional and marvelous fruits that cannot be found elsewhere. At the same time the Church is betrayed and denied, She emits memorable flashes of light that prove Her Divine Origin. There can be seen a continuous affirmation of the Holy Ghost’s assistance to the Church, and this appears to be the most opportune lesson that we can draw from the martyrdom of Saint John Fisher.