Standing Up to Fight for Life and Humanity

March for Life 2013Today, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, and on Saturday, ten of thousands will gather for the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, CA. The Main Stream Media (composed of liberals who promote tolerance and justice, unless of course you disagree with them – see Andrew Cuomo’s comments from last week) will not cover either event, however, their avoidance of not choosing to report about these two events will not stop us from gathering to defend the importance of human life, which begins at conception.

We now have entered the 41st year of this war on abortion. The battle lines have been drawn and the ranks just continue to grow on the Pro-Life front. The numbers have not decreased, as some wish they would, but they have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled over the years. Trust me my friends, this is a war and it is between good and evil. Let’s not forget the venomous and vile behavior we all witnessed from the hateful individuals in Texas who shouted, “Hail, Satan!”

The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by the soon to be Pope Saint John Paul II, is seeking to destroy all that is good and beautiful about the human person. As Christians, we must rise up and defend human life from conception to natural death. We must stand for marriage between one man and one woman, we must fight against the evils of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, and child abuse. In the end, we must fight for the very good of humanity itself!

The Culture of Death is not just about Abortion, but it envelops all the forces of destruction that I have mentioned, which in the long run seek to destroy today’s civilization. These evils will only continue to disrupt and demonize humanity in the years to come. We can see it currently with the destruction of the traditional family, the great strife in relationships, and the annihilation of the glory of the human person.

With 56 million children dead – I say enough is enough! We must stand up and fight for the unborn — for the beauty of the human person. Standing up for Life against the evils of Abortion is what we are called to do. It’s our very duty in this time of human history.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says,

“Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right…It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.”

Armor of God - Eph 6We are no longer fighting just battles, but it’s an all out war against the Culture of Death. We are not just engaging our fellow humans, who justify Abortion as a “law” or because it’s the easy way out, but we are fighting against the spiritual world as well (See Eph 6:10-18). As Christians, we must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we too can stand against the attacks from the devil. We must gird our loins and engage the battle that is in front of us.

The Culture of Life must be the engaging force against this “present darkness.” With Jesus Christ as our source and summit, it is our fundamental duty as Christians to engage the culture, counteract the culture, and do all that we can to show the Light of the World to the world. Our Lord is not a light that should be kept under a bushel basket, but He is the greatest light, the light brighter than a thousand Suns – Christ is the Light that will pierce the darkness.

Jesus Christ is the Heart – the very Core, of the Culture of Life, for He is Life itself. With Him…all things are possible!

Resurrection Icon

Fortnight for Freedom 2013

As we enter the Fortnight For Freedom 2013, which will last from today till July 4, we need to remember the sacrifices of other Catholics who have laid down their lives in defiance of tyrannical kingdoms and governments. It is fitting, and obviously planned, by the United States Bishops to begin this fortnight in anticipation of the feast day of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas St. john fisherMore. From the early Christian martyrs to Sts. Fisher and More to the Mexican Martyrs (so eloquently shown in the film, For Greater Glory) to Sts. Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein to the Catholics and Orthodox that are being killed for their faith around the world today, it is fitting that it is now our time to Stand Up for the great injustice (HHS Mandate which is set to begin on August 1, 2013) that has been promulgated by the current presidential administration; an administration that has tyrannical, socialistic, and anti-Christian tendencies rooted in its very foundation. They are a great threat to this nation and people of good conscience.  At this time, we may not be called to shed our blood for the faith (red martyrs), but we are being called to stand up for our faith and face social persecution (white martyrdom).

Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate the lives of martyrs in the liturgical calendar. During this time, we must pray, study, catechize, and engage in public action (search religious freedom on this blog and you will find more posts). Religious Freedom is at the heart and center of not only the United States of America, but it’s also fundamental to every human being by means of the Natural Law. I urge you during this time to pray hard for the conversion of the hearts of those seek to destroy the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has faced many tyrants in her past and every time has been victorious for we have Jesus Christ and He has already conquered evil and death.

St. Thomas moreSt. Thomas More is the key figure for us when we think of one who stands up to tyranny and injustice. St. Thomas More was wrongfully committed of High Treason by the Kingdom of England for not agreeing to the marriage of King Henry VIII. Below are the last few lines of St. Thomas More from the play, A Man For All Seasons. I think we need to remember these words and try to live up to them for ourselves and fights we many have ahead. This is a play I first read in college and many of the lines have stuck with me over the years. It’s a beautiful depiction of St. Thomas More as servant to the king, but God’s servant first. As I have said in other posts –  We are Americans, but we are Catholic first!

Norfolk: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty of High Treason. The sentence of the Court –

More: My Lord! My lord, when I was practicing the law, the manner was to ask the prisoner before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say.

Norfolk: Have you anything to say?

More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King ‘s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!

Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!

More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm…I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood – but because I would not bend to the marriage!

*************************************************************************

More: My Master had easel and gall, not wine, given him to drink. Let me be going.

Margaret: Father! Father! Father, Father, Father, Father!

More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth – even at our birth, death does not stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.

The Death Scene from the film, A Man For All Seasons. 

Standing Up For Life and Humanity

Today, thousands will gather in San Francisco for the West Coast Walk for Life (estimated crowd of 50,000), and yesterday, 500,000 – yes, ½ March for Life 2013million (some estimates claiming 650,000) people gathered for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. (even though the State-Run Liberal “Journalists” denied it was that large). Yesterday was the largest gathering of Pro-Lifers in this 40-year historical war between the forces of good and evil. Mark my words! – This is a war, and it is between good and evil. The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by Blessed John Paul II, is seeking to destroy all that is good and beautiful about the human person. As Christians, we must rise up and defend human life from conception to natural death. We must stand for marriage between one man and one woman (France, just did it!), we must fight against the evils of contraception, in vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, and child abuse. In the end, we must fight for the very good of humanity itself!!

The Culture of Death is not just about Abortion, but it contains all the forces of destruction that I have mentioned, which in the long haul will destroy civilization, as we know it. The effect these evils are having currently will only continue to disrupt and demonize humanity in the years to come. We can see it currently with the destruction of the family, the great strife between men and women in relationships, and the annihilation of the human person.

With 55 million children dead – 55 million children who had their lives in front of them – I say enough is enough! We must continue to fight for the unborn and for the beauty of the human person. Standing up for Life against the evils of Abortion is what we must do. It’s now part of who we are as humans in this historical period. In the words of William Wallace in the film, Braveheart, “Are you ready for a war?!” We are no longer fighting just battles, but it’s an all out war against the Culture of Death. We are not just fighting fellow humans, who justify Abortion as a “law” or because it’s the easy way out, but we are fighting against the spiritual world as well (Read Ephesians 6:10-18). As Christians, we must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we too can stand against the attacks by the devil. St. Paul knew this well – we must come to know it, live it, and fight for it, just like he did.

The Culture of Life must be the engaging force against “the present darkness.” With Jesus Christ as our source and summit, it is our fundamental duty as Christians to engage the culture, counteract the culture, and do all that we can to show the Light of the World to the culture. Our Lord is not a light that should be kept under a bushel basket, but He is the greatest light, the light brighter than a thousand Suns – Christ is the light that will pierce the darkness. Jesus Christ is the Heart – the very Core, of the Culture of Life, for He is Life itself. With Him…all things are possible!

Blessed John Paul II on Religious Freedom in America

As this new dawn rises on America, it’s a day of sadness. It seems 50% and the electoral college (a flawed system at best) of the United States of America (united is now a loose term) have decided to re-elect a person that opposes religious freedom in this country. Actually, this individual is very hostile toward Christianity, but specifically Catholicism. For the 50% of Catholics (another term used loosely) who chose to vote for this person, what are you thinking? Do you have any idea what you have just done? You reap what you sow! I hope that at some point you will come to realize what your decisions could do to this country.

As Catholics, who are faithful to the teachings of the Church (not like the 50%), we must turn our gaze to the late great pontiff, Blessed John Paul II. He too lived through the Nazi Empire as well as the Socialists who ruled with Communism in Poland and most of Eastern Europe. Blessed John Paul was a fundamental figure in the writing of Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Freedom from the Second Vatican Council – because he was living through it! As faithful practicing Catholics who adhere to the teachings of the Church (not like those numbers above), we must storm heaven with prayers and ask the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, St. Thomas More (and the fight for religious freedom), St. John Fisher, the Mexican Martyrs, and all the other saints who lived under governments that oppressed religious freedom.

On October 8, 1995, in Baltimore, Maryland, no less, Blessed John Paul II said,

“The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people’s awareness of the importance for society of religious freedom; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism in America’s official faith. And it is vitally necessary, for the very survival of the American experience, to transmit to the next generation the precious legacy of religious freedom and the convictions which sustain it.”

It would seem that Blessed John Paul II could see the “writing on the wall” in 1995 as his statement has a prophetic tone to it. So what can we do?  Storm heaven with our prayers and know that God is still God no matter who the person leading a country is and remember the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Blessed John Paul II – “BE NOT AFRAID!”

Fortnight for Freedom Closing Mass

Last Wednesday, July 4, 2012 – Independence Day for the United States of America, I was able to attend the Closing Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. I found it providential that I could attend because I have been writing about religious freedom ever since the HHS Mandate was promulgated by this current tyrannical administration in the White House. Truth be told, I was in the D.C/Northern Virginia area for a friend’s wedding that would occur on the following Friday, but since the closing Mass was to happen while I was there, I found myself blessed to be in the area.

I was sitting in the front row of the back section of the basilica on the right hand side. I could look up from my seat and see the mosaic dome that portrays Jesus’ Temptation in the Desert, his Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. Sitting next to me was a nice married couple from Baltimore who I talked to briefly before Mass began. We talked about my blog a bit and the husband said that he knew people in Phoenix, Arizona. The husband has recently contacted me via email to assist me network with another gentleman in the Phoenix area for potential employment.

As the procession began with the altar servers, then the deacons, I noticed the vast amount of priests that showed up for this important Mass. There were so many priests present, even Cardinal Donald Wuerl mentioned it before Mass began as he thanked all the hierarchy and lay faithful in attendance. There were also quite a few Bishops present as well. It was so great to be at this closing mass! I truly felt blessed being in the presence of so many great and faithful Catholics. I would say the highlight of the Mass, not including when Jesus became present on the altar – which happens at every Mass, would be Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s homily that can be read here. His homily was so inspiring! His passion for religious freedom is contagious. Everyone present was inspired to stand up for religious freedom for the months ahead. I would encourage you to read his homily located above.

In his homily, the one thing that really stood out for me was when he said that Caesar isn’t able to give or take away religious freedom. He may be able to interfere with it, but when he does he takes away from his own legitimacy. Read the homily and this will make more sense. Religious freedom, in accordance with the Natural Law, is rooted in the very foundation of our humanity. At the end of his homily, he received a loud ovation from all in attendance. There were even people waving small American flags in the basilica. 

As Mass ended and the procession exited the nave of the basilica, I found myself with tears in my eyes. I said two things to myself. First, “Man, I love being Catholic.” Second thing I said, “If being persecuted is what it’s going to take, then bring it!”

Even though the Fortnight for Freedom has concluded, we all need to be diligent and continue to fight for our religious freedom. We need to continue to pray, catechize, battle, and support each other during this trying time in our country’s history. I encourage you to read all that you can on religious freedom. Continue to follow my blog (many of my February posts are on conscience formation and religious freedom) and other Catholic bloggers who will continue to write on religious freedom, especially as we draw closer to this upcoming election. This election could define our country for generations to come. The current person that calls himself our president must be removed from the oval office for if he is not, the United States of America could cease to exist, as we know it.

**Note: I will be on a short hiatus over the next 5 days or so since I am moving back to Phoenix. Please continue to read my blog and check out older posts during my short absence. Also, please pray that my move is efficient and safe.**

St. Thomas More and the Fight for Religious Freedom

As we enter the Fortnight For Freedom, which will last from today till July 4, we need to remember the sacrifices of other Catholics who have laid down their lives in defiance of tyrannical kingdoms and governments. It is fitting, and obviously planned, by the United States Bishops to begin this fortnight on the feast day of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. From the early Christian martyrs to Sts. Fisher and More to the Mexican Martyrs (so eloquently shown in the recent film, For Greater Glory) to Sts. Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein to the Catholics being killed for their faith in Africa today, it is fitting that it is now our time to STAND UP for the great injustice (HHS Mandate) that has been promulgated by the current presidential administration; an administration that has tyrannical and socialistic tendencies rooted in its very foundation. At this time, we may not be called to shed our blood for the faith (red martyrs), but we are being called to stand up for our faith and face social persecution (white martyrdom).

Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate the lives of martyrs in the liturgical calendar. During this time, we must pray, study, catechize, and engage in public action. Religious Freedom is at the heart and center of not only the United States of America, but it’s also fundamental to every human being by means of the Natural Law. I urge you during this time to pray hard for the conversion of the hearts of those seek to destroy the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has faced many tyrants in her past and every time has been victorious for we have Jesus Christ and he has conquered evil and death.

St. Thomas More is the key figure for us when we think of one who stands up to tyranny and injustice. St. Thomas More was wrongfully committed of High Treason by the Kingdom of England for not agreeing to the marriage of King Henry VIII. Below are the last few lines of St. Thomas More from the play, A Man For All Seasons. I think we need to remember these words and try to live up to them for ourselves and fights we many have ahead. This is a play I first read in college and many of the lines have stuck with me over the years. It’s a beautiful depiction of St. Thomas More as servant to the king, but God’s servant first. As I have said in other posts –  We are Americans, but we are Catholic first!

Norfolk: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty of High Treason. The sentence of the Court –

More: My Lord! My lord, when I was practicing the law, the manner was to ask the prisoner before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say.

Norfolk: Have you anything to say?

More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King ‘s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!

Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!

More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm…I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood – but because I would not bend to the marriage!

*************************************************************************

More: My Master had easel and gall, not wine, given him to drink. Let me be going.

Margaret: Father! Father! Father, Father, Father, Father!

More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth – even at our birth, death does not stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.

The Death Scene from the film, A Man For All Seasons. 

Religious Freedom, Conscience Formation and “For Greater Glory”

In light of the STAND UP FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RALLIES that will be taking place in 160 cities across the United States of America tomorrow, I wanted to share with my new blog followers and Twitter followers some of my early posts on religious freedom and conscience formation. The primary purpose of this blog is to educate and evangelize the Catholic lay faithful in the New Evangelization. This purpose has begun to find its legs, but when I began this blog in late January, 6 of the first 7 posts were dedicated to religious freedom and conscience formation. As Catholics, we must partake in the political stage and not just sit on the sidelines and watch. These posts were written by me because in January the President and his minion, Kathleen Sebulius, announced the horrific HHS Mandate. Although this an attack on Catholics first and foremost, most of the other major religions have come to the side of Catholics to fight against this albatross that “El Presidente”  calls a “law.” The United States Bishops have vowed to fight this unjust mandate to the point of civil disobedience. As the laity, we must follow and support our modern day Apostles and stand with them against this tyranny and the radical views that are rooted deep in this administration’s foundation.

Yesterday I went to see the new film – For Greater Glory. It’s the story of the Cristeros and their fight for religious freedom against the Mexican government between 1926-1929. Essentially, it was the Socialistic Mexican president along with his government attacking Catholics in a vicious way. Bishops, priests, religious and countless lay men and women were slaughtered in church’s and on the streets by Federation troops. Blessed John Paul II canonized many of the martyrs of this war and Pope Benedict XVI has beatified others. This film is not an answer to the HHS mandate since it was in production before the HHS Mandate was announced, however, it is a reminder to us what happens when religious and civil freedoms are threatened. I suggest seeing the film as soon as possible. See here for movie times. In solidarity with our Catholic Mexican Martyrs who died not 100 years ago, we should all be present at the rallies tomorrow in our respective cities. Viva Christo Rey!

Below are my previous posts on religious freedom and conscience formation -

1. Dear Senator…I Want My Religious Freedom

2. Conscience Formation 101

3. Conscience Formation 102

4. Conscience Formation 103

5. The Erroneous Conscience

6. The Rise of the Faithful Catholics

Standing Up For Religious Freedom

This past Friday I joined a few hundred individuals at the steps of the Texas State Capitol to show my outrage against the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate. When this was first announced a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it since I teach during the time the rally was to be held. However, we had a different schedule on Friday since we had Eucharistic Adoration with the entire student body. I was able to drive down from North Austin to Downtown Austin for the rally and I was so happy to be amongst the men and women standing in defiance of tyranny. While I was at the steps of the capitol, I ran into many people I knew and even ran into Mother Assumpta Long, O.P., one of the founders of the Dominican Sisters Mary Mother of the Eucharist. She was in Austin for a fundraiser that the Sisters had the day before.

As I returned back to the high school, I looked at Facebook and Twitter on my cell phone and so many people were posting pictures from the other rallies that had occurred on Friday as well. I believe there were over 100 cities in the United States that participated in the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally.” As par for the course, there was barely any media coverage at the Austin rally. I only saw one media outlet present. It seems that the rallies did bring out the news media outlets around the country. It’s shocking to read so many news stories because the liberal leaning media sources want no part of the words that are spoken at these events usually. They are in bed with the Obama Administration and really should be considered “state-run” media sources like we see in other countries that oppress liberty and specifically, religious freedom.

Even though the Austin rally was relatively small compared to some of the numbers I read about it in other places around the country, the overall support from people driving by in their cars was very high. Many people honked their horns in affirmation in what we were doing on Friday.  As one who has prayed in front of abortion facilities before, you can tell the difference between a car horn of affirmation or one of negativity. As so many people honked in affirmation, I said to myself, of course they are honking positively because nobody in their right mind wants their religious liberties taken away from them. This country was rooted in the very fact that we have such liberties granted to us. The First Amendment is FIRST for a reason!

So what should we do?

First, inform yourselves if you haven’t already and visit the website – StandUpForReligousFreedom.com

Next, call or write your congressmen and U.S. Senators and ask them to support legislation that will overturn the HHS Mandate. Here is my post – Dear Senator…I Want My Religious Freedom.

Third, only vote for candidates that seek to protect human life and religious liberties.

Fourth, as Catholics, read the document – Dignitatis HumanaeDeclaration on Religious Liberty from the Vatican II Council (December 7, 1965).

Lastly, PRAY! Pray that those who are in power see the errors of their ways.

Dignitatis Humanae was so important during the Vatican II Council because at that time the Soviet Union was oppressing so many countries that the Bishops had come from in regards to religious liberties. Blessed John Paul II knew the dangers of socialism and communism first hand.  It was he, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that helped bring down Communism in the Soviet Union. America, we need to wake up to these dangers for they are present in our country and will only increase if the current administration is re-elected.

I leave you with some of the words from the above document. The bold lettering is mine.

“The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.” (Paragraph 2)

Holiness and Martyrdom as a Catholic in America

When Cardinal Timothy Dolan received his red hat on February 18, he said that he was grateful to the Holy Father for giving him this honor, but he just wants to be a saint. If I were to sit down with Cardinal Dolan today, I would share with him that the easiest way to canonization, according to the 6th point in the article – Desiderata for 2012 written by Reverend C. John McCloskey III, is to die a martyr. Knowing the extent of Cardinal Dolan’s experience and education, I would imagine that he would already understand this fact. I make this statement because martyrdom is very likely to appear in the United States of America in the years to come. With the greatest threats against Religious Freedom and attacks on the First Amendment this country has ever seen, it it quite possible that not only will our bishops, priests, and religious face martyrdom, but many faithful and obedient Catholics who will not comply with a tyrannical government could as well. I will let this marinate in your minds return to it at the end.

With that being said, the purpose of my blog is to engage and educate the Catholic lay faithful in the New Evangelization. It’s my hope that through my writing, I will help teach the “basics” of the Catholic faith for Catholic adults, who did receive proper catechesis as adolescents. In the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and one of his great vicars and universal shepherds, we must remember – “Be Not Afraid!” We must not be afraid of what lies ahead of us or be afraid to learn more about Catholicism. Today, I will discuss holiness, what it means to be saint, and martyrdom.

In Thessalonians 1:6-7, St. Paul says, “you become imitators of us and of the Lord…you became an example to all the believers…” To be holy and to seek perfection is not an option, but an obligation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must always thrive to be saints. Every Christian has the capacity of becoming a saint. Our purpose in life is to be holy in imitation of Jesus Christ, who is all holy. He is to be our perfect model. As St. Paul says in Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

What is holiness?

Holiness is the separation of the irreverent, seeking and giving oneself to God. God is the foundation of holiness because God is all goodness. The invitation to holiness and goodness comes from God himself.  As Christians, to be holy is to bring our best versions to the world. However, because we suffer from the remnants of Original Sin, it can be difficult and challenging at times to live a life of holiness. We must always remember that we have Jesus Christ as our model and strength and should never get discouraged. Even the greatest saints of the Catholic Church had their struggles and moments of weakness.

What is a saint? Who is called to be a saint? When do we receive this call?

A saint is a person who thrives to live a life of holiness with the help of God’s grace and attains the prize of eternal life (CCC 828). The word saint comes from the Latin term – sanctus, which means “holy.” Sanctification is the process where one is made holy.

All Christians are called to holiness. We are called to holiness after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, we are claimed and adopted by God as his children. We are restored to the filial (sonship) relationship that was established first and foremost with the first man. In our Baptism, we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. We also share in the three Old Testament offices that are fulfilled by Jesus – Priest, Prophet, and King.

To be a saint is to live a life dedicated to heroism. Heroism is about self-sacrificial deeds; it’s not about self-glorification and narcissism. It requires one to live with heroic virtue! G.K. Chesterton said, the “saints are the heroes of the Church.” Zorro has always been one of my favorite literary heroes. When I think about Zorro, the words of self-sacrifice, strength, goodness, and servant of the people come to mind. Just as Zorro is a great hero, so must we thrive to live lives dedicated to self-sacrifice, goodness, and serving others. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there have been many men and women who have answered the call to live lives of heroic virtue and self-sacrifice. In recent years, I think of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Blessed John Paul II, and St. Jose Maria Escriva. These men and women truly lived their lives for Jesus Christ and were filled with joy. St. Teresa of Avila said to be a saint is to live life with joy and passion – “a sad saint is not a saint at all.”

Living the life of a saint is not always the most popular lifestyle in our culture or period of history. To be a saint is to be counter-cultural just as the Church is counter-cultural. During his three-year ministry, Jesus himself was counter-cultural for he ate with sinners, spoke with woman (some became his disciples), and countered the elders of the faith.

Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix says, “Christ does not call us to be popular, or even successful. He calls us to take up the cross each day and follow him. There is only one ultimate failure in life: not to be a saint. Nothing else in life matters, compared to the treasure of Christ’s love.”

As Catholics, how do we become saints seeking holiness?

First, we must receive the Sacraments. Although all seven are fundamental, Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist can be received on a daily basis. The Sacrament of Reconciliation assists us in our relationship with Our Lord and allows us to restore our personal relationship with him when it is severed. If you have not been in some time, I encourage you to find a time and go. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist is the life giving bread of Jesus Christ. It not only nourishes our physical body, but gives us spiritual strength as well. It is truly Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. Next, we need spiritual direction. A director of our interior life will aid us in our prayer and help us to discern God’s will for our lives. Lastly, reading the Scriptures, Lives of the Saints, or other spiritual texts will engage us to know God in a personal way and will also assist in our relationship with Our Lord and His Church.

As Catholics who are striving to live lives of holiness, learning each day how to be saints, and living contradictory to the world around us will often bring times of hostility and persecution. We saw this in the Early Church as Christianity grew. Hostility and persecution rose up to meet Christianity and the martyrs of the Early Church were born. The word martyr comes from the Greek term – witness.  St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). Other individuals such as St. Lawrence, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Martina of Rome, and eleven of the twelve apostles (excluding John) and many others all died the martyr’s death. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch says about his impending martyrdom, “…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts…only let me get to Jesus Christ…I would rather die.”

There are two forms of martyrdom – red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom is witnessing to the faith where a person endures death. The Church proclaims those who are killed for the faith are baptized by blood and are directed straight to heaven. The red martyrs are genuine examples of heroic fortitude and conviction that is unparallel. White martyrdom (dry martyrdom) is social persecution rather than death. This form of martyrdom is when a person or group of persons are attacked either verbally or in writing for having a conviction of faith or when they choose not to violate their moral conscience. This is the most common form of martyrdom for us Catholics in America to date, but that could change soon.

Although the 20th century witnessed more red martyrs for the faith around the world than any other century, here in the United States white martyrdom was more common. However, in recent years and with the multiplying of the culture wars, white martyrdom has dramatically increased against Catholics in general (see Huffington Post article). With the announcement of the HHS Mandate and the so-called “compromise”, verbal and hate filled attacks have been on the rise against Catholics since we stand against this unjust law. We will not allow a tyrannical government like the Obama Administration to force us into anything that contradicts our Religious Freedom and First Amendment Rights on the grounds of “women’s health” (see yesterday’s results from the Blunt Amendment – right down party lines). We will not comply!

In the 1920’s, the government of Mexico declared war on the Catholic Church killing bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay faithful in the streets. It was terrible time for the Church in Mexico and many good and faithful people lost their lives. If the dangers we have now continue and the current administration is re-elected for four more years, Mexico from the 1920’s could appear on the shores and in the heartland of the United States.

The Rise of the Faithful Catholics

On Monday, February 13, a religious order of faithful catholic sisters released this statement – read it here.

I read either on Facebook or another blog the statement, why doesn’t the media ever interview religious sisters that are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church? It’s a good question, but one question, we already know the answer. The media isn’t searching for the truth, they are seeking to distort the truth and destroy Christianity, specifically, Catholicism.

There is no compromise with the HHS Mandate and if it’s going to take Civil Disobedience on the part of us faithful Catholics to reject this terrible and religious freedom-revoking mandate, then so be it! We must, as faithful Catholics (many non-Catholics have come to our defense as well) reject this mandate and all its false rhetoric and flawed statistics. Although this mandate is disguised under a “Healthcare” banner, the bigger issue of this mandate is religious freedom. I use the word “healthcare” with great care since sterilization, contraception, and abortion inducing pills cannot and should not be called “medicine.” Medicine should heal an individual not destroy or allow other diseases to rise.  Don’t forget – the issue here is RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

In Chapter I, section 2, the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) states, “…the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as we know through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.” (Italicized done by author). For us as faithful Catholics, this paragraph wraps up everything we will fight for when it comes to this mandate. We will not violate our conscience. We will not comply with this law.

As the lay faithful, we must stand with and support our Bishops in this endeavor. I know some of the Bishops in the past have not made the best decisions and have aligned themselves with people they should have clearly opposed. I also know that for 30 years in the US Church things were handled poorly and scandals arose. I further know that catechesis of the faith was watered-down and poor. I am not discrediting any of these issues, but our Bishops are taking a stance and we must support them in all that they do. Our new and young Bishops are strong, orthodox and faithful to the Church. They are attracting great men to the priesthood who are also orthodox and faithful. Religious orders that are faithful to the Church are on the rise and attracting men and women who want to give their lives to Christ and his Church. Oh yeah…one more thing…many of these orders – wear habits too! The “LPN” religious orders are going the way of the Dodo bird. “LPN” stands for Lapel Pin Nuns. You know them well – they dress like everyone else, wear a lapel pin cross and you wouldn’t know if they were a nun or a plumber.

One such order that is rising from Blessed John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization is the Dominican Sisters Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. They are religious sisters of the Dominican Order of Preachers. I have a great love for these holy women of God since I know the order very well and have worked with them in Phoenix, Arizona at St. Mary’s Catholic High School and currently at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin, Texas. In the summer of 2008, I was blessed to visit their Mother House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was invited by some of the sisters I knew in Phoenix at the time to attend their Final Vows. My words cannot do the experience justice, so I won’t even try to tell you how inspiring and beautiful it all was to me.

Mother Assumpta Long, the Prioress General and one of the four founders is one of the most amazing Catholic religious I have ever encountered. Holy, yet down to earth; educated, yet humble. And the young women that are flocking (and I mean as in the words of Forrest Gump…”I was Runnn-ing”) to this order mirror Mother Assumpta, yet have their own unique personalities and gifts. Over the past seven years of working with these sisters, I have met at least 50 of them, however, there are four that stand out to me since I worked with them or do so currently– Sister Mary David, Sister Mary Magdalene, Sister John Paul, and Sister Mary Elizabeth. 

I know times are tough with the current economic difficulties, but if you are looking for an organization to donate to, look no further than this great and holy religious order in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I would also encourage you to make a trip up to see their Mother House. Visit their website for more information.

As these faithful religious orders rise from the last 30 years of debunked Catholicism and as the new wave of faithful Bishops,  priests, and religious come from the JP II generation, we too, the lay faithful, must rise and be as faithful as our pastors and shepherds. Let us stand in solidarity with one another and with the generations before us who were oppressed by tyrannical governments oppressing religious freedom.

As the Christians came forth from the catacombs in the 4th century, we must rise up as they did and bring Jesus Christ and Church with us. It’s time…our time…The Rise of the Faithful Catholics begins now!

Other faithful religious orders for your browsing:

Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration 

Sisters of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Missionaries of Charity

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia

Sisters of Life

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Benedictines – Prince of Peace Abbey