We Stand Up to Fight for Life and Humanity

Today, hundreds of thousands will gather in blizzard conditions 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 liberal media (composed of liberals who promote tolerance and justice, unless of course you disagree with them) will more than likely not cover either event, even though there has been a push this year for them to cover it. 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 43rd year of this war on abortion that has cost the lives of over 57 million babies. 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.

The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by Pope Saint John Paul II, is looking 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 seeks 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.

March for Life 2013

With millions of children dead, we must 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.”

We 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 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.

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Star of the New Evangelization’

Last night, I appeared on the Joe Miller Unplugged show featured on the Fiat Ministry Network for my first television interview. Among the many things we discussed, we focused on evangelization, but specifically, the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization, a concept at the core of this blog, is the same thing as the old evangelization, but it’s the renewal of the Gospel message using the tools of social media, film, and technology to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church to places and lands that have already heard it.

Furthermore, the New Evangelization calls baptized Catholics to preach the Gospel to all people we encounter, and to do it with joy. As baptized Christians, it’s at our very core to be missionaries, even to people (our families, coworkers, and social circles) that have heard the Gospel message already. As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium,

“When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. For ‘here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means.’ Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”

In the interview, we also talked about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the weekly series which this post is now part of, and what the Church teaches about the Annunciation and the Immaculate Conception. So for today’s blog post I am going to unite these two elements – the New Evangelization and Mary, and give you the words of Pope Francis in the aforementioned Apostolic Exhortation.

The "Star of the New Evangelization' is the title given to Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The “Star of the New Evangelization’ is the title given to Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Focusing on Mary’s title as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’, the Holy Father says,

“We ask the Mother of the living Gospel to intercede that this invitation to a new phase of evangelization will be accepted by the entire ecclesial community. Mary is the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith, and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church. Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn. Along this journey of evangelization we will have our moments of aridity, darkness and even fatigue. Mary herself experienced these things during the years of Jesus’ childhood in Nazareth: “This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful good news. However, it is not difficult to see in that beginning a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of night of faith – to use the words of Saint John of the Cross – a kind of ‘veil’ through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. And this is the way that Mary, for many years, lived in intimacy with the mystery of her Son, and went forward in her pilgrimage of faith”.

There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves. Contemplating Mary, we realize that she who praised God for “bringing down the mighty from their thrones” and “sending the rich away empty” (Lk 1:52-53) is also the one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice. She is also the one who carefully keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization. We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world. It is the Risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).”

So as we begin our workweek this Monday, let us ask for the intercession of Mary as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’ to help us bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to all those we encounter with joy, enthusiasm, and passion. Let us build relationships with people so they may see our relationship with Christ and have the desire to develop and form a relationship with Him as well.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the Life of the Priest

Yesterday, for the first time, I witnessed the Ordination Mass for Priests in the Diocese of Phoenix. This Holy Mass was at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of Ss. Simon and Jude. To say that the Holy Spirit came upon the cathedral and lite the hierarchy and the lay faithful on fire with God’s grace would be the under statement of the year. It was a joyous liturgical celebration that displayed so many of the beautiful traditions of the Catholic Church. The three new Catholics priests, and whom I dedicate today’s “Mondays with Mary” are, Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Keith Kenney, and Fr. Scott Sperry.

Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Scott Sperry, and Fr. Keith Kenney.

Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Fr. Scott Sperry, and Fr. Keith Kenney.

Since I have begun this series on the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have been told as well as witnessed with my own eyes that many priests have a true and deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. For many of them, through the perpetual intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, their priesthood is defined, advanced, and completed. Although their own mothers play an important role in their vocation to the priesthood, it’s Mary as Mother who never leaves their side, as she did not leave the side of Jesus, even as he was crucified on the cross. As Mary stood by the side of Jesus, so too she stands with His priests when they act in persona Christi Capitis by way of their Holy Orders.

To understand Mary’s role in the life of the priest, below are four testimonies from Catholic priests explaining how important the Blessed Virgin Mary is in their vocation –

“Mary points us to Her Son. For me as a priest, I believe that I am called, like Our Lady to bring our loneliness, our littleness to Our Lord in humility. Our Lady shows me how to trust. I also believe Our Blessed Mother brings our awkward utterances that we see as prayer…and She makes them beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving before the throne of Our Lord.” – Fr. Don Kline

“I entrusted my discernment and vocation to Mary even before I went to seminary. I try to pray my rosary everyday knowing that Mary will not leave me astray from Jesus. I gaze with her up on our crucified Lord with all my unfulfilled desires, knowing that God will bring all things to completion in the best way possible.” – Fr. Matt Lowery

“When I think of Mary and the priesthood, I am drawn to that classic prayer prayed in preparation for celebration of Holy Mass in which the priest says, Mary “you stood by your Son as he hung dying on the cross. Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today here and throughout the entire Church.” As the great priest saints have shown us, Mary not only stands by us at the altar, our entire life is lived beside Mary. As her Son lived knowing her motherly love, so we priests are sure of her loving intercession.” – Fr. Paul Sullivan

So quiet and subtle, her Motherly heart finds a way into the heart and life of the priest. She communicates a hidden understanding of the deepest mysteries we celebrate…When I celebrate Him on the altar I hold the Precious Body that He received from her body and that was nurtured and nourished by her body…When I encounter a soul in the confessional I ask her to teach me of His Mercy as she knew it, so Her tenderness may teach me to reach the soul and give away His Mercy properly. – Fr. Anthony Sortino

To conclude this post, I give you the words of our past three Popes who know in a way like no other the importance that Mary plays in the life of a priest.

Mary and Eucharist

Recently, Pope Francis said,

“First of all go [to the Mantle of Mary] and wait until there is a bit of calm…Some of you will tell me…in this time of so many modern goods – psychiatry, psychology – in this time of turbulence, I think it would be better to see a psychiatrist to get help. But – do not dismiss this – but first go to your Mother, because a priest who forgets [the Virgin Mary], especially in times of turbulence, is missing something. He is an orphan priest, the one who forgets his Mother” (Meeting with Pontifical Universities and Colleges in Rome, May 12, 2014).

Pope Benedict XVI said,

“To take Mary with one means to introduce her into the dynamism of one’s own entire existence it is not something external and into all that constitutes the horizon of one’s own apostolate. It seems to me that one can, therefore, understand how the special relationship of motherhood that exists between Mary and priests may constitute the primary source, the fundamental reason for her special love for each one of them” (General Audience, August 12, 2009).

Pope St. John Paul II said,

“Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind. Mary was called to educate the one eternal priest, who became docile and subject to her motherly authority. With her example and intercession the Blessed Virgin keeps vigilant watch over the growth of vocations and priestly life in the Church” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 82).

This week as we remember the many priests of the Church in our prayers let us pray to Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ask that His Holy Catholic Priests are given the grace and strength they need to continue in their vocations on a daily basis. May they represent Him to the world, bring many souls to His Heavenly Kingdom, and may they do it with the Blessed Mother always at their side.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Witness of Martyrdom

Two days ago I was sitting in Mass when I noticed that in my Daily Roman Missal on the liturgical calendar, in the Latin Church, the first four saint memorials for the month of June are all martyrs. On June 1, we had St. Justin; June 2, we had Saints Marcellinus and Peter; June 3, it was Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, and now today, June 5, we have Saint Boniface of Mainz.

Out of the four memorials dedicated to these martyrs, three of them come from the early centuries of the Church, when of course we know martyrdom was a regular occurrence. The one that is not of the early centuries, but is in the late 19th century, is Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions. Although many of the early Christians faced the possibility of dying for Jesus Christ, and martyrdom has existed in the life of the Catholic Church for 2000 years, it’s a reality that many our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are still faced with today.

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 unmatched heroic fortitude and conviction. This is the martyrdom most recognized by the Church and the saints from above endured.

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 today. When someone calls you a bigot, intolerant, or just hates that you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have become a white martyr.

In order to see for yourself what many Catholics are faced with today, I would encourage you to view the website, Aid to the Church in Need. I also suggest Joyce Coronel’s book, ‘A Martyr’s Crown’.

Now that we have spoken about martyrdom a bit, let’s turn to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the subject –

CCC 2473: Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the faith: it means witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. “Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God” [This quote at the end is from the Letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch].

CCC 2474: The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood:

Neither the pleasures of the world nor the kingdoms of this age will be of any use to me. It is better for me to die [in order to unite myself] to Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. My birth is approaching… [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans]

I bless you for having judged me worthy from this day and this hour to be counted among your martyrs…You have kept your promise, God of faithfulness and truth. For this reason and for everything, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him, who is with you and the Holy Spirit, may glory be given to you, now and in the ages to come. Amen. [Martyrdom St. Polycarp]

CCC 2506: The Christian is not to “be ashamed of testifying to our Lord’ (2 Tim 1:8) in deed and word. Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith.

For more information on martyrdom, continue by reading what Pope Francis has said on the subject, 5 things we can learn about the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, and white martyrdom from the perspective of a persecuted high school student.

Always remember the words of the early Church Father, Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II

Well it’s official, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are officially Saints of the Catholic Church. I am sitting in my home with two friends who are fellow JP2 Generation Catholics, Christina and Carrie, watching the Canonization Mass. It’s a glorious day in the Catholic Church and one for the history books. Two Popes at the Canonization of two Popes. Here is the official liturgical program for the Canonization.

We give Praise and Thanksgiving to Our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us these two Holy Men of God. We pray through the intercession of the Holy Mother of God, our Theotokos, and all the great Saints of the Church to watch over the universal Church.

476_DualPopesSpn

Here is the Formula of Canonization that was read by Pope Francis that formally canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II –

For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and fre- quent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed

John XXIII
and John Paul II

be Saints and we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  

POPE ST. JOHN XXIII…PRAY FOR US! 

POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II…PRAY FOR US! 

Renewing My Baptismal Promises

Ever since I heard the homily about the importance of Baptism and lighting a child’s baptismal candle each year following their Baptism by Fr. Jim Wall, now Bishop James S. Wall of the Diocese of Gallup, I always wanted to renew my baptismal promises on the actual date of my Baptism – March 17.

Being Baptized by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy's Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

Being Baptized by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

For whatever reason, I have never done so until today. After reading Rosario Rodriquez’s blog post last week titled, Today is the Anniversary of my Baptism, it got me thinking that I should do the same thing since my baptismal date was coming up.

After speaking to my Pastor, who is also my boss, Fr. Will Schmid, and explaining to him what I had in mind regarding my baptismal promises, he agreed to renew them with me today.

Baptismal Promises:

V. Do you renounce Satan?  R. I do.

V. And all his works?  R. I do.

V. And all his empty show?  R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?  R. I do.

V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?  R. I do.

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?  R. I do.

V. And may almighty God, the Father or our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.  R. Amen.

On January 8, 2014, Pope Francis said the following about knowing our baptismal dates,

“Many of us have no memory of the celebration of this Sacrament, and it is obvious why, if we were baptized soon after birth. I have asked this question two or three times already, here, in this square: who among you knows the date of your Baptism, raise your hands. It is important to know the day on which I was immersed in that current of Jesus’ salvation. And I will allow myself to give you some advice… but, more than advice, a task for today. Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you will keep in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day. The danger of not knowing is that we can lose awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received. Thus, we end up considering it only as an event that took place in the past – and not by our own will but by that of our parents – and that it has no impact on the present. We must reawaken the memory of our Baptism. We are called to live out our Baptism every day as the present reality of our lives. If we manage to follow Jesus and to remain in the Church, despite our limitations and with our weaknesses and our sins, it is precisely in the Sacrament whereby we have become new creatures and have been clothed in Christ.”

Share with us in the comment box below the date you received the Sacrament of Baptism.

If you don’t know the date of Baptism, I would encourage you to seek it out so when the date comes up on the calendar, you can ask a priest or deacon to renew your baptismal promises.