The Link Between Abortion and Trafficking

It is often believed that those who spend their time fighting abortion are of a different ilk than those who fight child sex-slavery. Indeed, all those seeking justice usually have time for only one area of total-expertise, but my blog today will attempt to show that both child-sex slavery and abortion feed each other in a vicious cycle. We must become abolitionists for both of these attacks on children. Indeed, besides the obvious link that slavery and abortion both harm innocent children, there are several important reasons why sex-slavery will continue to grow within the abortion and contraception empire.

1) The disproportionate number of unborn girls killed in China has driven young Chinese men to Vietnam and Cambodia in order to kidnap children as “brides.”
China had a one child policy from 1979 to 2013. This changed to a two-child policy in 2013. However, because a family could only have one child, they heavily favored a male child. Thus, Chinese girls were aborted in the millions. Some of these abortions were elective. Other times these were governmentally-forced abortions, even to the extent that China had “abortion vans” that travelled and forced abortions upon young Moms. The effect of this one-child policy has led to an aging population as the BBC reported on here. The effects of gender selection are also far-reaching. By 2020, China will have an astronomical 30 million more men than women. Who will these men marry? The men of China now pay for kidnapped children in Southeast Asia. (The term “child-bride” is a an inaccurate term, considering that coyotes simply kidnap child sex-slaves for a single “owner.”) Thousands of Hmong girls have been kidnapped from Vietnam for Chinese men who have no one to marry, as seen in this article by Business Insider, appropriately titled Chinese men buying brides from Vietnam is getting out of control.  Put all this together and the conclusion is obvious: Abortion has played a significant role in the child-sex slavery of Asia today.

2) Planned Parenthood keeps American pimps in business.
Today, there are at least 27 million slaves in the world. At least 2 million of these are child sex-slaves (more than 2 million, if we consider how many abused work sex “on the side” of their forced manual labor.) The United States government reports that there are 100,000 child-sex slaves here in the United States alone. (One should never use the term “child prostitute,” since a child never chooses prostitution, for only emotional brainwashing and drugs lead these children to this forced sex-slavery.) The FBI has rescued children as young as 6 years old from child sex-slavery. 95% of the child sex-slaves in the United States are girls, and most of them are between the age of 13 and 18. Of course, these are child-bearing years for most of these girls. But if a pimp is to allow 20 johns (trafficking term for rapist) a day to enter a 15 year old child sex-slave, he most certainly does not want her to get pregnant. The answer is clearly contraception and abortion for the numerous children that he “owns.”

However, these pimps do not want to get caught, so Planned Parenthood has proven to be their aid in providing contraception and abortion to their sex-slaves, without the involvement of law enforcement. In this video, Live Action conducted a sting-operation in 2011 against Planned Parenthood in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. A fake pimp tells Planned Parenthood manager Amy Woodruff, “We’re involved in sex work…some of them are like fifteen, fourteen, and some of ‘em don’t speak any English.” Amy Woodruff then helps the fake pimp to keep the girls in slavery. She even gives him advice on what kinky acts the children can do for sex after the children are subjected to abortion. “Waist up,” Woodruff says with a smile. This is not an isolated incident. Planned Parenthood frequently covers for adults raping children. In this similar sting-operation video, the sexual abuse of a 13 year old proved to be no problem for Indianapolis Planned Parenthood.  Law enforcement is never contacted to help a 13 year old who was raped.  Money remains the bottom line for Planned Parenthood.

The abortion agency goes deeper into the world of child sex-slavery than most of us pro-lifers might expect. Roughly two-thirds of those rescued from sex-slavery say that their forced abortions came not from a back-alley abortion chop-shop, but rather from an official abortion center. In this sickening report, one young survivor said, “I got pregnant six times and had six abortions during this time. Several of them were from a doctor who was a client- he did them back door- I came in the back door after hours and paid them off the books. This kept my name off any records…At least one of my abortions was from Planned Parenthood because they didn’t ask any questions.” Notice that the abortion doctor raped a child and then killed his own child when she got pregnant by him.

3) Contraception is the bond that keeps teenage sex-slaves under control, not free to control their own bodies.
A Guttmacher report shows that “54 percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method…during the month they became pregnant.” This means that contraceptives do not prevent abortion, but rather promote abortion. Besides the fact that the Pill or injections function as an abortifacient nearly 500 million times a year worldwide, the Pill and barrier methods also prove to be false-saftey nets against surgical abortions for both girls and women. What does this mean for the trafficking world? This means that contraception and abortion go hand-in-hand for traffickers who are trying to control their teenage girls’ active reproductive systems. The reasoning is obvious: Traffickers must stop pregnancy at all costs. A child born to one of his slaves will greatly reduce his income. Thus, conception and birth must be stopped at all costs for the pimps who make hundreds of thousands a year on their child sex-slaves, even here in the United States. Indeed, contraception and abortion are the primary bonds against the girls (combined with the brainwashing and drugs to get them in the underground market in the first place.)

The ILO reports that Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers. This includes $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation. Mafia members have switched from selling drugs to selling girls. Why? Cocaine can be used only once, but a girl can be used over 20,000 times. Thus, child sex-slavery is extremely profitable, as long as the girls don’t get pregnant.  And if they do get pregnant, Planned Parenthood will abort the baby with no questions asked.  That way, the children return to their abusive owners (who pay for the abortions) as soon as possible.

In 2011, the FBI did a raid on a brothel in New Jersey. They suspected that there were Mexican prostitutes being run out of the home. What they found was rather a home for child sex-slavery. This became the well known story of “The Girls Next Store.” The FBI website reports:

“The article ‘The Girls Next Door’ describes a conventional midcentury home in Plainfield, New Jersey, that sat in a nice middle-class neighborhood. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, the house was part of a network of stash houses in the New York area where underage girls and young women from dozens of countries were trafficked and held captive. Acting on a tip, police raided the house in February 2002, expecting to find an underground brothel. Instead, they found four girls between the ages of 14 and 17, all Mexican nationals without documentation. However, they were not prostitutes; they were sex slaves. These girls did not work for profit or a paycheck. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move. The police found a squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th-century slave ship. They encountered rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, ‘morning after’ pills, and an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion. The girls were pale, exhausted, and malnourished.”

Notice who wanted the easy access to morning-after pills and abortion-inducing drugs. It was not the teenage Mexican girls. It was their captors who wanted easy access to contraceptives and abortifacients. Of course, these were not for the physical health of the young girls, but to keep them enslaved as long as possible. Thus, contraception is like chemical handcuffs that the pimps put on barely-fertile girls, even here in the United States. Remember also from number two above that many abortion centers will provide contraception and abortion for these for girls being raped without any involvement of law enforcement. Thus, even the FBI report makes it clear that abortion and child-sex slavery fit together like a hand in a glove.

We must get over the Pretty Woman glamour of prostitution that we saw in that movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. In that imaginary world of prostitution of the 1980s, an adult woman uses contraception for her health. The reality is much more grim. First, the normal oral contraceptive kills embryos at the rate of millions a year.  Secondly, the Pill frequently causes pulmonary embolisms in women, as seen in this study by the British Medical Journal. Thirdly, most girls enter slave work during their teenage years, usually against their will.    This means that contraception rarely comes with their own consent. Globally, contraception is truly the friend of traffickers.  The New York Times even did an article titled To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control.

4) Once a society allows children to be abused in the uterus, they will be abused as toddlers and teens.
When the topic of child sexual abuse comes up in conversation, many Americans will bring up the Catholic Church priest scandals. The 2% of priests who did such actions did irreparable harm, so I will never make any excuse for those priests who destroyed families and probably forfeitted their own souls if they die without repentance. However, the Catholic Church has always said that such behavior is a mortal sin, and it is categorized as a sin that cries out to God for vengeance. So, we need not worry about the articulated faith and morals of the Catholic Church on this. But we should worry about the teaching of the academy on these things.  Consider that the American Psychiatric Association has recently (but somewhat quietly) condoned pedophilia by declaring that It’s Normal to be Aroused by Children.

One of my heroes in the anti-slavery movement is an Italian priest named Fr. Cesare Lodeserto. In Italy, countless women and girls from Albania and Nigeria have been trafficked into the sex-slave world. Fr. Lodeserto has not only rescued numerous Albanian women, but he has a safe house until they can return to work a normal job in the world. This safe-house has heavy steel gates at the entrance, replete with armed police patrol behind its high wire fence. Due to his rescue of valuable “property,” the mafia even kidnapped Fr. Lodeserto and threatened his life, as seen here. But Fr. Lodeserto continues in his life saving work of women.

When a trafficked woman gives birth to a baby, she is rarely free to leave the sex-trade business. In fact, the mafia who does the trafficking will often take the baby and harvest it for organs. A 22 year old Romanian prostitute who gave birth to baby. The baby was taken by her pimp and killed. She never saw her baby again. She said, “I think that my babies were taken for their organs or to be sold. I don’t know for sure.” See the BBC article here with her and Fr. Lodeserto.

Why do the pimps take these babies? In that same article, Fr. Lodeserto explains that the babies are kidnapped to kill and then sell their organs, especially their kidneys and livers to the international transplant industry. Secondly, he points to the illegal adoption agency, which has also become a very profitable business.

What does this have to do with abortion? You see, once a child is a commodity in the uterus, a toddler or teen will soon lose value in society, especially if the young person be a female. We should not be shocked that a world that accepts abortion will kidnap the babies of sex-slaves and kill them for their organs.  Just click on the BBC article above if you think this is an exaggeration.

The rate of gender-selection in favor of boys in India is upwards of 99%. During the National Prayer Breakfast in February 1997, Mother Teresa said the following in the presence of President Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton: “What is taking place in America is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another.” I add: When a life can be extinguished by the push of a vacuum button, then what is to stop a nation from pushing a similar button to nuke another country? Indeed, the ending of abortion is our only hope for the safety of children worldwide. We are now seeing that we are willing to kill and abuse toddlers and little girls, and I believe this is because we have devalued pre-born life.

What can we do to rescue and protect children?

You can donate to your favorite a pro-life organization that either does sidewalk counseling, free ultrasound services, work for unwed pregnant mothers or support families who have adopted children originally slated for abortion. As most people have their favorite pro-life organization, I will not suggest any here.

However, to rescue those involved in sex-slavery, I will suggest a new Catholic home is opening near San Diego. Children of the Immaculate Heart is to be a refuge for teenage girls who were sex-slaves. The Children of the Immaculate Heart will take care of the girls’ physical needs and psychological needs following unspeakable trauma. It will also be also offer very orthodox Catholic teaching for any girls who are open to it. I’d encourage you to support this exciting new venture.

Most importantly, fast and pray for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the only thing that will end abortion and child sex-slavery. The Holy Mass and the Rosary are our best weapons. Please make a concrete resolution with me to pray these daily for the end of everything you just read.

 

Why you should stop confessing pornography

Really, a better title of this article is “Why to stop confessing pornography badly.” Or: “Why confession without amendment will still lead to the loss of your soul.” People do not realize the danger in confessing pornography without a firm resolution of amendment to totally change their life.  That is the purpose of this blog post.

Going to confession within a week (before or after) of Divine Mercy Sunday totally relieves the soul of not only the eternal effects of sin (hell) but also the temporal effects of sin (purgatory.) Jesus said to St. Faustina, “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.”—Diary 699

However, one of the requirements for a good confession is “firm resolution of amendment.” Firm resolution of amendment means that you will try to avoid the sin that you just confessed. I’m going to give you five reasons to never fall into pornography again.  I write this for men, but some women mind find a loving challenge in my words, too:

1) Confession cleanses the soul but not the memory. Pornography and masturbation are both mortal sins, even when committed exclusively of the other. In fact, lustful thoughts without pornography can be mortal, for Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”—Matthew 5:27. Now add to this the fact that pornography is biochemically burned at each use into the memory section of the brain.  Now add into this mix the fact that the Church teaches that confession generally relieves the eternal effects of sin (the soul) but rarely the consequences of the sin (the memory.) Now add into this mix the fact that demonologists and exorcists teach that demons have access to the memory (but demons do not have access to the substance of the soul where the Blessed Trinity resides in someone in sanctifying grace.) Combine all of the above facts of human biology and Church doctrine and this is the stunning outcome: Demons have some access to your memory of past pornography even when you are in sanctifying grace!  Do you see why this addiction must be stopped as soon as possible?  Accessing those memories (on your own, or with some infernal help) can be a slick road to a mental fall as you picture all the filthy things of your past.   St. Francis De Sales teaches that thoughts become mortal sin when “you with full deliberation resolve to take pleasure in such delight.”  Do you see why your brain can not take one more insult of filth? You don’t know when the tipping point will be, so do not presume upon confession. Confession will not cleanse your memory, but you can start doing that by making a firm resolution of amendment to never see pornography again. This will be necessary for a clean mind.

2) Pornography releases real-live demons into your home. Consider the quote of Jesus above where he says that simply looking upon a woman with lust is “adultery.” Now consider the fact that exorcists say that there are actually specific demons of adultery. Demons can probably not commit lust (since they have no physical body) but there are demons on specific missions of lust against us humans. Thus, binding yourself to a woman you see in pornography invites those demons into your home. I am not an exorcist, but I do minor-exorcisms in deliverance ministry that has taken me even to India. When I work with young fathers who have addictions and fetishes, I often notice that their children have very strange screaming patterns that almost sound diabolical.  I am not saying those kids are possessed, but there are some signs of diabolical obsession in these families where the dad struggles with porn.  In any case, I am totally convinced that young fathers who use pornography are bringing demons into their home. How sad that these are the very men who want to protect their family and provide for their home.   The end of this article will include new weapons for them to beat this silent killer of family life.   As I was writing this article tonight, I texted an exorcist friend on this topic and he wrote me:    “All exorcists are consistent on this point: The continuous and unrepentant commission of mortal sins constitutes an increasing danger of demonic obsession (in a body) or infestation (in a place)… The more frequent the consent, the more open the invitation to these demons. The regular habit of viewing porn allows the entry of those unclean spirits into one’s life and home.”

3) Looking at pornography grows the child sex-slavery business even when you’re looking at adults. Here’s why:
The same men often run both industries. Huffington Post quotes “Fight the New Drug” in saying that “when these customers show up [to use prostitutes] many come ready with porn images in hand to show the women they’re exploiting—many of which are human trafficking victims controlled by pimps—what they’ll be forced to do…According to FTND CEO Clay Olsen, ‘porn fuels the demand for the sex trade’ in a way often not seen by those who view porn. ‘Traffickers have learned to package their product in a way that disguises the fact that the “performers” are forced to participate,’ said Olsen.” Thus, we must ask the question: Who are these human trafficking victims? In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) funded a study that looked at sex trafficking of minors in the U.S.  The victims in this study reported a median age of 15 years old, though some think it may be closer to 13 and others 19.

Think of your fifteen year old daughter being kidnapped and used for movies over the next ten years the next time you think that pornography is “harmless.”

4) “Normal” pornography use fosters a desire for child-porn or violence. There’s actually a science behind this. Dopamine and norepinephrine are powerful pleasure chemicals released in the brain during orgasm. But unlike normal married sex, the immediate and ubiquitous access to pornography allows those chemicals to be released so frequently that an up-regulation of the biochemical receptors happens. That means that when more receptors are made (to “catch” the more frequent floods of bio-chemicals that come at orgasm) more chemicals are similarly required to even reach simple orgasm. The outcome of this up regulation on a biochemical level has  one of two earthy outcomes:
A) Total loss of sex drive. Even my most unfavorite magazine, Time Magazine, had this article to show that millions of young men have lost any desire to have sex with real women because of how often they masturbate to fake women.

or

B) More and more kinky porn. As I wrote, the up-regulation of receptors requires a greater flood of biochemicals to reach orgasm, and the only way to release more chemicals is to get into more shocking and kinky material. Many men get bored with “ordinary” pornography and they slowly wade into the world of child-pornography or violence. This begins with BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sado-Maschism) but it often ends in acting out real violence, often against children. Many serial killers did not think that “innocent” pornography would ever lead them to killing, but many of them admit that the strange attraction to the next higher-high of human interaction and degradation all began with the self-abuse of simple pornography. Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy both say that pornography was their launching point into their serial killing. I have included in this footnote the quotes from fourteen serial killers on how they got their start in pornography: 1

 

5) St. Thomas Aquinas taught that masturbation is worse than pre-marital sex: “And therefore simple fornication, which is committed without injury to another person, is the least kind of lust.”—Summa Theologica II.II.154.12. St. Thomas is basically saying that although both are mortal sins, masturbation is actually worse than the old fashioned consensual sex behind the barn of two young lovers. Why? Because masturbation is a direct offense against nature and the Creator who gives us the option for life. At least fornication is still open to life. (St. Thomas Aquinas never fathomed that there could be a Pill to kill 500 million tiny individuals every year.) But barring the topic of contraception and abortion, we can say this confidently: Masturbation does more harm to your soul than simply having pre-marital sex. (But abortion is worse than both, and most people who have pre-marital sex are mildly open to abortion.  Even without abortion or contraception, God obviously does not want us to do either fornication or masturbation.)  This is also why oral sex is worse than normal intercourse.  I wish every Catholic high school student in this country could read this single part of my blog post.  Many Catholic young adults believe they can receive Holy Communion on that same filthy mouth that did that sick sin as long as they didn’t do the one natural sin of fornication that at least reflects the marital act!

As a subset of number five, I think I should mention that I believe that masturbation is a homosexual act. Many men might think they feel manly by looking at pictures of women and masturbating. But the reality of it is: It’s a man’s hand that is leading a man to ejaculate. I might take some angry comments or emails for this one, but it has to be said: Masturbation may be one reason why so many straight men become gay. Barring the debate on whether one is “born gay,” I think we all know people who thought they were straight for a long time… and then decided they were gay. I very much believe this may be due to a man masturbating himself, since, at the end of the day, it is a homosexual act: A man is doing it to a man or a woman is doing it to a woman. This is probably tied to the above where St. Thomas Aquinas believes masturbation is worse than normal fornication.

So, really this blog post should be this excessively verbose title: Why-you-should-stop-confessing-pornography-and-start-doing-something-to-end-pornography-in-your-life-so-that-you-can-begin-to-actually-make-a-good-confession-again.  None of this is for shock value.  If you don’t like to read about these things from a priest, well, I don’t really like to blog about them.  But not many other people are saying them, and I want to help people in this silent addiction.

Now for the good news…

If you find yourself in a cycle of pornography/masturbation and then confession every week, do not lose hope. I am proud of you for getting back up and going to confession. As Scott Hahn says, “The one thing greater than my ability to sin is my heavenly Father’s ability to forgive me.” “It does not matter how many times you fall, only how many times you get back up.”—St. Therese.

The blood of Jesus that covers us in confession is a totally free gift of grace, but for salvation to be realized, we must cooperate. If you keep falling into the cycle of pornography/masturbation and then confession every week, it is not God’s grace that is missing in your life! It is your cooperation. And because “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” we need thermobaric weapons, not just the pellet guns of three Hail Marys a day for purity.

If you have an addiction to pornography or some other fettish, confess your sins regularly, but I do not think that you will ultimately beat it until you choose one of these spiritual thermobaric weapons:

1) 15-20 decades of the Rosary a day.

or

2) Fast on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday until you are two months clear of all pornography use (and consider the continuation of the practice to clear your memory of past insults of self-abuse.)

or

3) Join RECLAIM SEXUAL HEALTH . It is a couple hundred dollars, but many men who could never beat pornography and masturbation even after fasting have found help here. It is a system based on non-condemnation. It is a system based on getting the man to understand the pathophysiology of addiction, especially the chemical addiction of pornography. Finally, each man at the Reclaim Program gets his own personal coach on the phone who comes with total anonymity and secrecy. (In other words, he won’t call your home phone to have your wife find that you have a private coach to get you off pornography!)  Reclaim is supported by many American bishops as the best way for men to get off pornography.

Nothing could be greater than the grace imparted to us on Divine Mercy Sunday, but for salvation to be realized, we must cooperate. And if you’re serious about beating the destructive, diabolical sin of pornography, please consider one of the three above “thermobaric” spiritual weapons. If you don’t do it for you, then do it for your family.  Their spiritual environment hangs in the balance on your decision to take these things seriously or lightly.


    • Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer of Wisconsin, speaking of his routine before hunting for a victim said, “Just…using pictures of past victims…the pornography videos, the magazines…” Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 boys and men.
    • Ted Bundy, convicted rapist and mutilation murderer of Washington, said that hard-core pornography had a “crystallizing effect” on his violent tendencies and his acting out during the 1970s.
    • Arthur Gary Bishop from Utah, executed for raping and murdering five boys in the 1980s, said pornography’s “effect on me was devastating.”
    • Andrei Chikatilo, a Russian serial killer, murdered at least 53 women and children. “…with pictures of naked women in his prison cell, he blamed pornography as the cause of this troubles.”
    • Wisconsin resident Ed Gein, the first serial killer, aka The Butcher of Plainfield, and inspiration for movies such as Psycho, Maniac, and The Silence of the Lambs “accumulated a library of anatomy books, porn magazines, horror and adventure novel…” in the 1950s.
    • John Wayne Gacy‘s wife filed for divorce in 1976 because “Gacy’s moods had become erratic, and [she] had found Gacy’s pornographic magazine collection which was all centered around young boys.” Gacy killed at least 33 young men and boys in Chicago, Illinois.
    • The nickname BTK (bind, torture, kill) was given to Dennis Rader, a Kansas native, who killed 10 people. “He kept meticulous records of his fantasies and crimes in what he called his ‘mother lode’ collection of pornography.”
    • David Berkowitz killed over a dozen people in New York. He joined a cult and was introduced to “drug use, sadistic pornography and violent crime.” The cult also created and distributed child pornography.
    • Richard Ramirez was exposed to explicit pictures of his cousin “raping Vietnamese women and severing the heads of Vietcong soldiers.” He in turn killed at least 13 people in California.
    • Edmund Kemper, a California serial killer and necrophile known as the Co-ed Killer, used pornography and detective magazines for erotic stimulation; he picked up women who were hitch-hiking, then killed, and raped them post-mortem.
    • Ottis Toole from Florida became obsessed with gay pornography. He “committed his first murder at the age of 14.” During his killing spree, accompanied by Henry Lee Lucas, he killed 108 people.
    • The Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin Jr., “had a penchant for prostitutes and pornography.” A resident of LA, he would pick up prostitutes, take pornographic pictures of his victims, then strangle them to death. His killing spree included 11 murders.
    • In the 2013 murder case of Tia Sharp, a 12-year-old girl from the UK, the judge declared to murderer Stuart Hazell, “the records of your internet searching on your mobile phone make abundantly clear that you were looking out for pornographic pictures of pre-teen girls.”
    • In 2013, on the day Mark Bridger, a UK native,abducted April Jones, he “viewed online photographs of a young girl and a pornographic cartoon depicting…rape.”—https://www.netnanny.com/blog/what-serial-killers-and-murderers-think-about-pornography/  

5 Things You Might Not Know About St. Joseph

I’m going to write on five surprising things of St. Joseph in celebration of his feast day today.

1) St. Joseph was probably born without original sin. I know this one sounds heretical, but follow me here. A nun in Ohio received private revelations from Mary and Joseph in 1956, all of which were approved by Cardinal Burke in his letter to the USCCB in 1997. These apparitions are known as “Our Lady of America.” St. Joseph said the following about himself in this apparition: “It is true, my daughter, that immediately after my conception I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was, from that moment, confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men. My pure heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God.” Mary was conceived without original sin. Joseph was conceived with original sin. However, if this apparition is true (and I believe it is) then immediately after his conception, Joseph was cleansed by God via the merits of Jesus on the cross applied retroactively. Thus, Jesus is still the Divine Savior of His foster-father, Joseph. Many ancient saints, popes, doctors and theologians of the Church have firmly believed that St. Joseph never committed an actual sin—neither mortal, nor even venial. This theological assertion does not empty the cross of its power, but rather reveals the omnipotence of God to apply the merits of the Redemption as He sees fit, even outside of time. Again, Jesus still saved Joseph from sin. (But this one probably deflates the old joke of Joseph getting blamed for everything in the breakfast-nook by the rest of the Holy Family.)

2) St. Joseph, betrothed to Mary, was a young-virgin himself. Although not defined, this is the teaching of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Combine this with the dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity, and the outcome is that St. Joseph is still a virgin in heaven. This sheds light on the hidden life of Nazareth, namely, that it took great virtue—not old age—to live in celibacy with the most beautiful woman ever created. This also means that Jesus was the only child that Joseph ever raised. Imagine this father teaching his son the Hebrew Scriptures late at night in his workshop. The angels themselves could not have made greater praise than these deep but tender, joyful whispers of the Psalms coming from a carpenter’s workshop day and night. (For Scriptural clarity on the identity of the mother of those relatives of Jesus always debated to be either His “brothers” versus His “cousins,” you can decide for yourself by reading Matt 27:55-56. It’s the entire Scriptural key to Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.)

3) St. Joseph was probably taken body-and-soul into heaven at his death. Have you ever seen a first class relic of St. Joseph? Me neither. St. Francis De Sales, a doctor of the Church, considers it definite that St. Joseph was taken body-and-soul into heaven at his death. Many such saints look to Gen 50:25 as a prophesy. Common sense dictates: Would God let his own foster father rot in the ground until His second coming? Indeed, we know that although Mary’s Assumption was unique, Mary was not the only one taken body-and-soul into heaven for a preemptive resurrection of the body. (See Gen 5:24, 2 Kings2:11 and Matt 27:53.) That St. Joseph should be among this small party of bodies in heaven is easy to believe when you consider that St. Joseph has been defined doctrinally by the magisterium as the second greatest saint. (See the writings by Pope Leo XIII.) I would have thought that the runner up to Mary would have gone to, say, St. Paul or St. Catherine of Siena. Nope. St. Joseph is the second greatest saint, even higher than the angels in glory. A simple carpenter! In fact, St. Teresa of Ávila says of St. Joseph: “I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant.” Remember this when you pray for—and with—the dying. Since St. Joseph died with Jesus and Mary at his side, he is considered the patron of a good death. My experience is that his intercession is almost immediate.

4) St. Joseph is the head of the Holy Family. This seems obvious, but think about it: St. Joseph is #3 in holiness in his family, but he is #1 in the authority of his family.  Right here we have the whole Catholic answer to the issue of women’s ordination, the role of the father as the spiritual leader of the family and even the necessity of complementary roles played by two different genders in the family. Why? Because the Holy Family reveals to post-moderns that roles themselves do not imply superiority; roles prove natural law. (Natural Law is the universal law of family and morality already stamped into the heart of human beings found in any culture.) One day, we Americans may learn that the equality of dignity enjoyed by man and woman is not the same as a bland, interchangeable sameness of family members. How boring. Rather, real roles provide beauty when they are lived without chauvinism or manipulation. Mary was holier than Joseph, but that didn’t stop her from being obedient to him. In fact, Jesus—the Divine Word of the Universe—was obedient to both of them (Luke 2:51.) So, what was Joseph’s role, anyway? That of every man: To protect, guard, provide, teach, guide and love. When a woman lets a man do this, it’s not conveying inferiority. It’s letting him live the fullness of his own masculine love for his family.

5) St. Joseph is the Return of the King. If you look at St. Joseph’s genealogy in the Gospel of St. Matthew, you will see that Joseph had to be the hidden king of Israel by being a direct descendent of King David. Why didn’t anyone know it? Because David’s royalty had to go underground to give way to a corrupt Hebrew theocracy in cahoots with Greek invaders. (For more, see the Old Testament’s 1 and 2 Maccabees, aka the Jewish Braveheart…Yes, some poor Protestans took out the most exciting book in the Bible because Luther didn’t like the Purgatory reference in 2 Macc 12:39-42.) Anyway, follow closely for one more minute: St. Joseph was “King of Israel.” This is proved right there in Matt 1:6-16. He is in the direct bloodline of King David! Read it if you think that that is a title that belongs only to Jesus. In fact, Jesus being the supposed-son of the king may have been a cruel but prophetic twist on the head-placard written by Pontius Pilate at Jesus’ crucifixion: HIC EST IESUS, REX IUDAEORUM—Matt 27:37. Of course, Jesus goes beyond Joseph as the prophesied everlasting King of Israel (2 Sam 7:12-13) since Jesus is God. If you’ve read any Scott Hahn, you know that the queen of a Jewish king was not his wife, but rather His mother (1 Kings 2:19.) Thus, if Jesus is king, then the queen of Israel is clearly Mary. Put it all together and this means: For different reasons, Mary and Joseph are both hidden royalty! The royal duty of Joseph was to guard and protect his queen, Mary. But it doesn’t end there. His duty of guarding this queen was the cameo of his longer vocation to protect the Catholic Church by his intercession in heaven. Is this a pious but random connection? No. The Church’s theology is that Mary lived as the exemplar (supreme goal and example) of the Church. This means that everything St. Joseph did once for her on earth, he would do now for the Church from his spot in heaven. Now it is easy to understand why St. Joseph’s current role is to guard and protect the Church in her pilgrim state of danger here on earth. He is summoned to protect her from both theological error and real demons. We need to call on him now more than ever in this time of nearly unprecedented confusion within the Church and diabolical attack within the family (the domestic Church.) “St. Joseph, terror of demons” is ready to help us pray and act and teach as men.

Lastly…I’ve traveled to missions and parishes on five continents during the past three years and I would argue that it is mostly in Western nations where people consider religion to be a “woman thing.” Not so in the Middle East, in India, in Africa. God is for both genders. Consider the witness of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs whose heads were sawed off with knives last month while they were still alive. (This is not “beheading” as the media erroneously calls it. “Beheading” was something merciful that Herod did to John the Baptist.) Did you know that these 21 were not ultra-religious Copts hand-picked by ISIS for torture? They were ordinary Christian men. Did you know every one of them was given the chance to verbally deny Jesus and then accept Islam? These normal fathers and husbands submitted to a gory death on the shores of Libya instead of denying our dear Savior, Jesus Christ. Beshir Kamel, a brother of two of the martyrs, later said that his brothers and friends were “a badge of honor to Christianity…ISIS gave us more than we asked when they didn’t edit out the part where they declared their faith and called upon Jesus Christ. ISIS helped us strengthen our faith.” Yes, this was the year 2015. Perhaps it is no coincidence that both Josephs of the Bible have blessed the sands of Egypt by their courageous and manly witness when compromise could have “saved” them. St. Joseph, genetically so close to these modern heroes and martyrs of Libya/Egypt, pray for similar men to be raised up in the Church of the Americas.

—I originally wrote this article for Those Catholic Men.

40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Today is the Memorial of the 40 Roman Soldiers who banded together in modern day Armenia, refusing to renounce Christ.  St. Basil writes of their glorious and manly martyrdom:

These holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop; all in the flower of their age, comely, brave, and robust, and were become considerable for their services. St. Gregory of Nyssa and Procopius say they were of the Thundering Legion, so famous under Marcus Aurelius for the miraculous rain and victory obtained by their prayers. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola the governor of the province. The latter having signified to the army the orders of the emperor Licinius for all to sacrifice [to false gods], these forty went boldly up to him, and said they were Christians, and that no torments should make them ever abandon their holy religion. The judge first endeavoured to gain them by mild usage; as by representing to them the dishonour that would attend their refusal to do what was required, and by making them large promises of preferment and high favour with the emperor in case of compliance. Finding these methods of gentleness ineffectual, he had recourse to threats, and these the most terrifying, if they continued disobedient to the emperor’s order, but all in vain. To his promises they answered that he could give them nothing equal to what he would deprive them of; and to his threats, that his power only extended over their bodies which they had learned to despise when their souls were at stake. The governor, finding them all resolute, caused them to be torn with whips, and their sides to be rent with iron hooks; after which they were loaded with chains, and committed to jail.

After some days, Lysias, their general, coming from Caesarea to Sebaste, they were re-examined, and no less generously rejected the large promises made them than they despised the torments they were threatened with. The governor, highly offended at their courage, and that liberty of speech with which they accosted him, devised an extraordinary kind of death, which, being slow and severe, he hoped would shake their constancy. The cold in Armenia is very sharp, especially in March, and towards the end of winter, when the wind is north, as it then was, it being also at that time a severe frost. Under the walls of the town stood a pond, which was frozen so hard that it would bear walking upon with safety. The judge ordered the saints to be exposed quite naked on the ice; and in order to tempt them the more powerfully to renounce their faith, a warm bath was prepared at a small distance from the frozen pond, for any of this company to go to who were disposed to purchase their temporal ease and safety on that condition.

The martyrs, on hearing their sentence, ran joyfully to the place, and without waiting to be stripped, undressed themselves, encouraging one another in the same manner as is usual among soldiers in military expeditions attended with hardships and dangers, saying that one bad night would purchase them a happy eternity. They also made this their joint prayer: “Lord, we are forty who are engaged in this combat; grant that we may be forty crowned, and that not one be wanting to this sacred number.” The guards in the mean time ceased not to persuade them to sacrifice [to false gods], that by so doing they might be allowed to pass to the warm bath. But though it is not easy to form a just idea of the bitter pain they must have undergone, of the whole number only one had the misfortune to be overcome; who, losing courage, went off from the pond to seek the relief in readiness for such as were disposed to renounce their faith; but as the devil usually deceives his adorers, the apostate no sooner entered the warm water but he expired. This misfortune afflicted the martyrs; but they were quickly comforted by seeing his place and their number miraculously filled up. A sentinel was warming himself near the bath, having been posted there to observe if any of the martyrs were inclined to submit. While he was attending, he had a vision of blessed spirits descending from heaven on the martyrs, and distributing, as from their king, rich presents and precious garments; St. Ephrem adds crowns to all these generous soldiers, one only excepted, who was their faint-hearted companion already mentioned. The guard, being struck with the celestial vision and the apostate’s desertion, was converted upon it; and by a particular motion of the Holy Ghost, threw off his clothes, and placed himself in his stead amongst the thirty-nine martyrs. Thus God heard their request, though in another manner than they imagined: “Which ought to make us adore the impenetrable secrets of his mercy and justice,” says St. Ephrem, “in this instance, no less than in the reprobation of Judas and the election of St. Matthias.”

In the morning the judge ordered both those that were dead with the cold, and those that were still alive, to be laid on carriages, and cast into a fire. When the rest were thrown into a waggon to be carried to the pile, the youngest of them (whom the acts call Melito) was found alive; and the executioners, hoping he would change his resolution when he came to himself, left him behind. His mother, a woman of mean condition, and a widow, but rich in faith and worthy to have a son a martyr, observing this false compassion, reproached the executioners; and when she came up to her son, whom she found quite frozen, not able to stir, and scarce breathing, he looked on her with languishing eyes, and made a little sign with his weak hand to comfort her. She exhorted him to persevere to the end, and, fortified by the Holy Ghost, took him up, and put him with her own hands into the waggon with the rest of the martyrs, not only without shedding a tear, but with a countenance full of joy, saying courageously: “Go, go, son, proceed to the end of this happy journey with thy companions, that thou mayest not be the last of them that shall present themselves before God.” Nothing can be more inflamed or more [moving] than the discourse which St. Ephrem puts into her mouth, by which he expresses her contempt of life and all earthly things, and her ardent love and desire of eternal life. This holy father earnestly entreats her to conjure this whole troop of martyrs to join in imploring the divine mercy in favour of his sinful soul. Their bodies were burned, and their ashes thrown into the river; but the Christians secretly carried off or purchased part of them with money. Some of these precious relics were kept in Caesarea, and St. Basil says of them: “Like bulwarks, they are our protection against the inroads of enemies.”

How God Loved Your Soul Before It Existed

Last night, a spiritual directee in Europe emailed me a quick question on Scripture and philosophy.  I typed out a medium-length answer, but it hit me that this might actually help my other readers to understand God’s love in a new way.   I normally don’t publicize emails to me, but she gave me permission and I changed her name.  The above picture is Aristotle, and you’ll see how he fits into the answer.


Happy Sunday, Fr Dave!

I have questions.

Souls don’t exist before our bodies, right? At conception, is when God first creates the soul and joins it to the body. Right?
That’s when we first ‘began’ but the soul has no end.

I don’t fully understand this though, because how then could Jeremiah 1:5 fit in with this? “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” is that saying He knew who he would eventually be or who he was before he was born? Was this like and isolated event because God planned for him to be a prophet? I mean, obviously God is omnipotente, so he knows everything anyway.

I guess I bring up that verse is because I see it often used in the pro-life movement.

AAAAAHHH this is confusing!!
I’m not sure how to clearly articulate myself here, hopefully it makes sense.

-E


Emily,

Yes, that is such an amazing question with an amazing answer.

In seminary, we study philosophy before theology, so let’s start with Aristotle (who lived long before Christ.) He taught that everything has four causes and that these are not mutually exclusive. They are, and they will be applied to a table on this website I copied them from (in italics):

Material
Let’s start with the material cause. According to our famous Greek philosopher, the material cause is the actual physical properties or makeup of a thing that is. It’s the stuff we can see, touch, taste, and so on. Using my table, the wood is the material cause of the table. The table is made of wood, and therefore, the wood is the material cause. It’s a rather simple one to grasp.

Formal
Next is the formal cause. Stated a bit academically, the formal cause is the structure or design of a being. In layman’s terms, we can call it the blueprints, or the plan. The formal cause is what makes it one thing rather than another.

Going back to my table, we already know its material cause is wood. That’s what it’s made of. However, the original carpenter could have chosen to make the very same wood into a chair, but he didn’t. Instead, his plan, or design, called for putting the wood together as a table. According to Aristotle, our carpenter’s design is the formal cause.

Efficient
Aristotle’s next cause is known as the efficient cause. Stated very simply, this is the thing or agent which actually brings something about. It’s not what it’s made of or the plan for how to make it. It’s the actual force that brings something into being. Again using our table, Aristotle would tell us the carpenter is the efficient cause. It’s his swinging of a hammer and sawing that actually brought the table into being.

Final
Our last cause is aptly named the final cause. Being a bit more abstract, the final cause is the ultimate purpose for being. Turning one last time to my table, its final cause is to give me and my family something to eat on, to do homework on, and play cards around, making it a very, very special family heirloom. It has been fulfilling this final cause since even before I was born!

Back to Padre now, writing. So, basically, you yourself have four causes, which can also mean end or telos or that which draws you to your final state of Emilyness.

Applied: Your material cause is your parents’ sexual union. Your efficient cause is God making your soul. Your final cause is union with God in heaven. What is your formal cause? Well, like the author said above, your formal cause is the blueprint. The blueprint for Emily existed as old as God is, which is eternity. Why? Because God does not exist in time. That means that, although you are not eternal, the plan for you is eternal! How astonishing is that! The blueprint for Emily (your formal cause) was in the mind of God for all eternity. (Mind does not mean a physical cerebrum, of course.) Anyway, the fact that God knew that He would make you trillions of years before (before can’t even be used in an appraisal of eternity technically!) the earth existed is enough to bring a man or woman to tears of thanksgiving for God’s precise love for each soul. So, neither you nor Jeremiah existed before your conception, but when God says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” (Jer 1:5) it means that God already knew you in His eternity, even though you had not existed yet. He dreamed about the perfect Emily before you existed. What proof is that of His intimate and particular and unrepeatable love for you!

AMDG,
Padre

How to Pray for Your Enemies

The Catholic Church has taught from the days of St. Paul that it is the duty of state to use the death penalty. 1

The theory of “just war” is also an important part of the infallible moral teaching of the Catholic Church, especially as one forms the  leaders of state. But today’s post is not about how to deal with enemies at the national level, but how to pray at the personal level. Jesus Christ said “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”—Matthew 5:44. Notice that such a command does not make that person not-your-enemy! Love your enemies presupposes that you are a real enough person to actually have real enemies. Not just imaginary pseudonyms from social media who want to kill you with the push of a button.

You see, simply the idea of having an “enemy” is jarring to the post-modern mind. We tend to put unity before truth. So, it’s strange that Jesus Himself had enemies. It’s tough for us Americans to grasp this, for we generally want to get alone with everyone. This is not bad, but it is bad to value unity above truth.  God’s reality for our planet is that unity flows from truth.  Anyone who lives this reality of metaphysics will have some enemies.   Having enemies is actually necessary to get to heaven, for we need enemies to get there, primarily so that we can live the Beatitudes.

The above is a photo of desperate families escaping from Khorsabad, a town controlled by ISIS which was under Peshmerga fire. How is it that the tradition of the Catholic Church could have the Knights Templar killing Muslims at the siege of Malta and still believe in a Savior who said Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? We have to look past the muddled theology of the past 50 years to see that the tradition of the Catholic Church actually has a more practical and more merciful approach to enemies than a new feelings-based theology. In fact, our answer today is going to come from an official prayer of the Traditional Latin Mass for enemies. Remember, this Mass was not created by a group of Catholics and Protestants sipping espresso in an Italian coffee shop, but it’s roots are “apostolic” by the infallible words of the Council of Trent. Certain parts were later changed or formulated under the blood of martyrs and the fastings and vigils of select saints over very slow centuries. So, almost all of prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass can be traced to time between the 1st and 7th century AD. This is why we can say that the liturgy is a look into the mind of God, even in reference to a single Oratio for an enemy.

As I wrote, there is actually a prayer for enemies in the Traditional Latin Mass, and this shows the mind of God:

One translation of the top prayer from the 1962 Missal is as follows:

O God, the Lover and Guardian of peace and charity, grant to all our enemies true peace and charity, together with remission of all their sins, and by Thy power deliver us from their wiles. Through Our Lord. Amen.

Let’s parce out this beautiful and powerful prayer to see how it is more merciful and practical than anything that could come from a manmade or fabricated liturgy.

O God, the lover and guardian of peace and charity
Notice that this is a prayer directed to God, not to the congregation. It recognizes that charity and peace are not social inventions, but that only God can give charity and peace, for God is love. When we divert from Him (even doctrinally) we don’t just divert from the Magisterium. We divert from the infinite Being who is Love-Itself.

Grant to all our enemies true peace and charity
I personally find it astonishing to see that the ancient tradition of the Catholic Church has something more merciful and practical for enemies than anything I found in the first five years of my priesthood praying the Mass of Paul VI. In other words, the intense saints of old all prayed that God would actually grant “peace and charity” to all their “enemies.” This presupposes that priests and saints have enemies.  Thus, it is a prayer that takes blood, sweat and tears.  The old Mass is so subtle, but perfectly crafted in every word.  The liturgy is the bridge between God and man, even for issues as gritty as enemies.  When that bridge is broken, we will forget how to live even the practical sides of life, including prayer for our enemies.

[Grant our enemies the] remission of all their sins.
Amidst all the doctrinal divisions in the Church today, we should each pray this prayer once today: “Grant to all our enemies true peace and charity, together with remission of all their sins.” (Da omnibus inimicis nostris pacem caritatemque veram: et cunctorum eis remissionem tribue peccatorum.)

This above Oratio or prayer hits all the transcendentals: Truth, beauty and goodness. It recognizes, however, that the final transcendental of oneness (or unity) can not be met by a fabricated form of man’s peace, but rather only Christ’s peace. This is a peace that has not been accepted by most of the world, as seen in the top picture of ISIS destroying more lives.  We can not fake peace with the Muslims or even Catholic heretics that infiltrate the Church.  But Jesus does not lose peace.  In fact, He gives it in a deep but counter-cultural way: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”—John 14:27

By Thy power deliver us from their wiles.
I really, really love this part of the prayer. We pray nosque ab eorum insidiis potenter eripe which is: “Rescue us from our enemies’ insidious plans, by Your power!” This shows that the fulness of Catholicism is very practical, not amorphous or nebulous. Let’s put it all together: “God, please grant peace and love to my enemies, but keep them far from me and my loved ones!” Real people and great saints (usually one in the same like St. Paul) were not people-pleasers. They were great lovers of the person who stood before them, enough to die for their enemies. So also, we do not deny the harm done to us by our enemies, but we love them, forgive them and pray for them. 2

You see, we  still (barely) live in a world more real, more material, more direct than the virtual reality of an Oculus. It will get more real when terrorist attacks increase on our soil, surely coming in 2017.  Because life is real, material and direct, we need prayers that are real, material and direct. “God, please love on my enemies, but stop them from affecting my life.” Let’s pray this prayer boldly for and against 1) the enemies of tradition, 2) the enemies of unborn life and 3) the enemies of middle-Eastern Christians.

We need gritty, merciful and practical prayers like this.  2016 was a year that produced an estimated 90,000 martyrs. We have had 900,000 martyrs the past 10 years. The tradition of the Church is under siege and enemies of the pro-life movement have no intention of stopping killing babies just because Trump was elected today. I snapped this in New Orleans just a few days ago, and it perfectly illustrates love of enemies, even the enemies of innocent and tiny little children like this “death-scort.” Notice the joy of the Catholic woman behind her, as she prays her Rosary.

So, God of peace and charity, please grant peace and charity to all our enemies and even the remission of their sins. But also Lord, rescue us quickly and powerfully from their evil designs.


  1. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”—Romans 13:1-4. JPII had some valid circumstantial arguments against the death penalty, but no Pope’s personal opinion can overturn the Divine Revelation of the Scriptures and the Council of Trent that uphold the fact that the state “bears the sword” (Rom 13 above) which is the duty to execute, albeit in justice. My emotions line up with JPII on this topic, but part of being Catholic means putting aside our emotions for the Magisterium. There’s a strong article on that here.

  2. ..and sometimes blow them up, especially when they are killing and raping the innocent like ISIS does. This is the teaching of Just War theory, but to go to war, a Catholic nation (non-existent now) must meet all the requirements as seen even in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
    “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    3. there must be serious prospects of success;
    4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition” [CCC 2309]

    I believe all four have been met for militarized nations of East and West to unite and fully eradicate ISIS.

    The reason why a person should probably not use violence to shut down infant-killing centers in the United States is because the requirements for “civil disobedience” have not been met. In fact, not just one or two, but ALL OF THE FOLLOWING must be met for executing any armed resistance outside of a state-sanctioned mandate:
    1. There is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights.
    2. All other means of redress have been exhausted.
    3. Such resistance will not provoke worse disorders.
    4. There is well-founded hope of success.
    5. It is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.—CCC 2243

    In the battle for pre-born life, #1 and #2 have been met, but #3 and #4 have not been met to begin civil disobedience.  I’m not sure about number 5.  But again, all five must be met, and NOT ALL FIVE HAVE BEEN MET.   In other words, violent civil disobedience can be justified for saving the innocent, but in this case it would harm the pro-life movement. Thus, you will NOT see me use violence against any killing mill.  I go there with the weapons of the Holy Mass, exorcism and the Rosary… which  are truly more powerful, anyway.

St. Stephen and Rogue One

Spoiler alert on Rogue One for the second half of this blog post.

Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Catholic Church. His martyrdom is found in Acts chapter 7 and it contains the jarring testimony of a young deacon who chooses God’s religion over man’s intertwined religious games. Although engaging the high-powered Jewish religious leaders of Christ’s own time, St. Stephen is fearless in proclaiming how Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all the Hebrew Scriptures. Before being stoned to death, Stephen recounts to the Pharisees all of Salvation history. Then he accuses them:

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”—Acts 7:51-53

Why did Stephen die? The obvious answer is out of love for Jesus Christ. In fact, every martyr dies for love of Jesus Christ. But there’s a second reason that is not as obvious or ecumenical: Stephen died for the full deposit of the faith.  “Deposit of the faith” is not a romantic term but we should face the facts:  Most martyrs of the early Church (especially in the Byzantine East) died for the transmission of the deposit of the faith to remain pure against heresy. Think about it: If the early Catholic martyrs of Rome and Palestine and Byzantium had not died to maintain the purity of the Apostolic Christian faith, there would be no Catholics. Actually, there would be no Orthodox or Protestants. There would be no Christians.  It’s quite a fragile system of Apostolic succession that God put in place.

Do not think that any particular heritage or bloodline is the sole guarantor of your Faith. For example, no English or Irish Catholics reading this post would be Catholic if Italians like St. Gregory the Great had not sent missionaries to the isles up north. Gregory was born in Rome, and he himself owes his faith to more individuals than Christ:  He would never have been  baptized a Catholic, had not the Roman martyrs for hundreds of years before him maintained the courage under fire to keep the pureness of the faith. Pope St. Gregory the Great learned about Catholicism only because it was preserved by the martyrs of the Roman empire for a full five centuries prior to his own baptism.

2 Maccabees chapter 7 relays the account of the martyrdom of a Jewish woman and her seven sons.  They die not for a pure emotional love of God but to keep even the smallest of dietary laws.  So also, the martyrs died not only for Christ, but for the fullness of the Catholic faith. Every little bit. Did every little bit really matter?  Jesus said:  “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”—Matthew 5:19.  The Apostle John urges the Churches of Turkey to “return to their first love”  and the Holy Spirit warns through him that there will be consequences to watering down the faith. Today,  the faith is all but dead in Turkey.  Similarly, we must avoid any presumption that would lead us to believe that God would “owe us a living,” so to speak, in the Church in the West today.

I’ve gone to see Rogue One twice now. What struck me is that all the good guys in the movie die. At least the ones we learn by name, perish. They are either blasted or nuked by the Imperial forces. Why? Because the Rebel Alliance chose to sacrifice their lives for one single piece of information:   The digital plans for the DeathStar. Americans usually don’t like movies where all the good guys die. Europeans can handle it. But Rogue One took a risk with us Americans in wiping out almost every significant member of the Rebel Alliance against Darth Vader and his DeathStar pioneers.

Was it a good idea for Lucas Films to force us to watch our heroes die for the transmission of a single piece of information? Yes, because this is how the martyrs of the early Church saw things: The Catholic Faith was worth their blood for every single one of those small pieces of “information.” Yes, they received the courage and charity to die, primarily because they were given grace and mercy by the Blessed Trinity in their hour of agony. Yes, they died out of love of Jesus Christ. But if you look closely, many of early martyrs of Byzantium and the Roman Empire actually died to also maintain the pure deposit of the faith against certain “small” heresies that wouldn’t even be recognized by the post-modern reader.

Nowadays, people are taking sides between Cardinals on issues of doctrine that are finally making the mainstream news. The group on the left claims that their Cardinals are pastoral and merciful. The group to the right claims that their Cardinals are traditional. But many traditionalists do not understand just how traditional we are talking. We’re not lining up behind a Cardinal because he dresses like someone at the Council of Trent. We’re lining up behind men who are not only maintaining the Apostles’ Faith but also the blood of millions of “little people” to preserve it.   Literally millions.

Like Rogue One, many “little people”  died to bring us this pure, untouched information. For me to deny any single tenet of the Catholic faith has little to do with the liberal/conservative spectrum. For me to deny any single tenet of the Catholic faith would trample the blood of martyrs like St. Stephen.  St. Stephen is known as the proto-martyr because he was the first martyr of the Catholic Faith. St. Stephen proto-martyr is first Rogue One against lawyers’ manmade religion of popularity when St. Stephen presented them with Divine Revelation.

The martyrs that followed Stephen died for Jesus Christ, yes, but let’s examine a less ecumenical truth:  Jesus didn’t need those martyrs as much as we Catholics in future generations needed those martyrs to stay strong under torture.  It was a torture for your children to know the fullness of truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The whole truth.  Surrender without content is usually not worth dying for.  Neither was an ambiguous “deposit of faith” (unromantic though it be) transmitted in apostolic succession or the martyrs of the early Byzantine and Roman Empires.  I am only a priest. Too many men, women and even children died for me to learn the Catholic faith for me to tamper with that deposit of the faith with political terms like “liberal” or “conservative.”

St. Stephen was the first Rogue One. He chose truth over the false-peace contained in man’s laws. So also every martyr is a rebel against the kingdom of man; he is a Rogue for God in an enormous community of the Catholic Church.  Every one of them played a small part in brining us not only Jesus Christ and His sacraments, but also the full and saving doctrine His Church—a doctrine without which the sacraments would contain no power to live…or to die.

Christmas Prose

This is a poem/prose that I wrote in seminary.  I quoted this poem in my Sunday Midnight Mass Christmas homily.  The homily was only four minutes, and it’s found here:

“One will be sent in the flesh,” thundered the most beautiful Trinity to the angels and all the courts of heaven eons ago. In perfect harmony they rejoiced. But later they wondered if anyone but a lowly archangel like Raphael (still more glorious than a burning star) could dare condescend again to take flesh as Raphael did for Tobit. Their best guess for the new assignment was Gabriel. God said “Gabriel will go…but in spirit as preparation. One much higher than he will become flesh.” “But how?” the angels wondered, “A cherubim’s eyes would melt the trees and mountains. No human warrior’s body could even instantaneously hold the power of a seraphim. Who will go in the flesh?” And they intuited through each other like laser beams, seared and alit by the thought of leaving the splendor of heaven for the dirt and sorrow of earth with man. And then the answer came from God: “I will become man.” After ages of silence, awe, wonder, war and adoration, a high angel said “The Lord’s voice flashes flames of fire. What warrior shall you absorb for your powerful and wise task?” And God replied “I shall assume the body and nature of a poor baby, and I will eventually be nailed to a tree to die quietly, without friends. This will be for mercy, for all.” All fell down in confused adoration that the essence of God would be humility.

Why Catholic Men are Bored in Church

Although Colorado’s Supermax is the federal prison that is featured on all the TLC shows, Colorado’s death row for our homegrown felons is actually on the Eastern Plains. For my second assignment as a priest, I was sent to a parish containing within her bounds that very Correctional Facility.

Upon arrival, I had a plan to reach not just the Catholics, but all the semi-professed Christians at the prison. I would hold a Bible Study called “What the First Christians Believed,” but not write “By Fr. Dave Nix” on the flyer. It was an immediate success. Many people from all denominations arrived. Great discussion ensued for the first two weeks. However, one non-dom felon with too much time on his hands (imagine that in America’s prisons) had learned…Hebrew. By week three, he jumped on my smallest inference to the Catholic faith, attempting to debate the meaning of New Testament Greek words transliterated into his Hebrew purview. By our fourth meeting at that enormous prison, a fight broke out between the Catholics and the Protestants. The guard arrived to protect me. No punches were thrown, but my cover was blown. As if the cassock hadn’t given it away, they now knew: I was a Catholic.

Numbers dwindled. Within three weeks, I was sitting in my Bible Study room with one man…a single black man from Brooklyn who was getting released in two weeks. That evening, we gazed across the hallway through the classroom windows to see another large room, filled with Muslims doing prostrations. Depressed, I asked him “Why do you think Islam is the number one growing religion in the world?” The man must have learned a lot in his prison sentence; He answered: “Because there you get what you see. No games with God. No loopholes.”

Rewind a few years earlier in seminary. I was saying to my friends that, as a priest, I would not have girls on the altar as acolytes. A formator overheard me and chimed in: “You wouldn’t want to be less generous than the Church.” Ok. I went away feeling corrected and, um, ungenerous.

But it hit me a bit later that the common ground between the two above stories is this: Is the mind of God found in the tradition of the Church or in the Church’s loopholes? Imagine that your 15 year old son or daughter had a curfew of 9pm, and “on very rare occasions” you allow her to come home at 11pm. What if she came home every night at 11pm and midnight? We would rightly conclude that there was something wrong with her sense of fatherhood.

Now consider that the Church has held a great many things sacred for many centuries, and how now dispensations are overruling. We must remember God’s words: “For I the Lord do not change.”—Malachi 3:6. Consider how, under great pressure from progressive bishops, Pope Paul VI hesitantly allowed communion in the hand to occasionally replace communion on the tongue in circumstances that almost seem to read “safe, rare and legal.” St. John Paul II was put under similar pressure to allow altar girls to occasionally join the army of boys on the altar. Dispensation…now become norm.

Did you know that the 1917 Code of Canon Law said that it is “forbidden” to marry a non-Catholic? The 1983 Code of Canon Law similarly says it is “prohibited” to marry a non-Catholic. Both codes refer to the dangers to salvation to the Catholic party (cf. Pope Pius XI’s Castii Conubii.)   I’m not against the Church occasionally granting dispensations to a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic, but when was the last time you heard of a Tribunal reminding the couple that such norms are in place for the salvation of their eternal souls? Was the Apostle Paul’s admonition to be “equally yoked” purely the Revelation of an arbitrary Father? Or, is there any chance Our Father’s original plan was the most generous?

Liturgists (including Chief Liturgists) also need to consider whether rubrics be capricious…or from a reasonable God. For example, Vatican II reads that the Mass should be offered normally in Latin, but that the vernacular language may also be allowed. Which is the rule and which is the exception? Or, consider how Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI notes that even in apostolic times there was no precedent for the priest to face the people during the sacrifice of the Mass. Nowadays, however, that small loophole to the 2000 year-old Catholic (and Orthodox) norm has covered the globe. This was all for the sake of filling the parishes. Has it worked?

A point of dogma needs to be made: It is not just pious devotion, but it is actually the dogma of the Catholic Church that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Thus, in order to understand the generosity of the Fatherhood of God, we must consider the mind of the Church through tradition, through 2000 years, not just modern loopholes.

I think I could summarize Jesus’ message to the Pharisees in one sentence: “Stop playing games with God.” Jesus’ main message to the Pharisees was not to abolish the law (See Mt 5:17) nor overturn the necessity of the commandments for salvation (See Mt 19:17) nor even end liturgical sacrifice (1 Cor 5:7-8.) Living in a country with so many Protestant overtones, we nowadays tend to picture a Jesus who, being a bit of a flippant religious-cowboy, wanted to end the Jewish hierarchy. Even this is not true (See Mt 23:3.) Jesus admits that the Pharisees still remain on the “chair of Moses,” but “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (23:23). In other words, “Stop looking for the loopholes, and start living for God. He does not play human games based in human tradition.”

I believe there is a key to attract men to the Catholic Church. It’s to stop playing games with dispensations in the name of being “pastoral.” I’m not saying a system of hard-core rules is key to making disciples of all nations. Nor am I promoting those ultra-conservative men who talk to their wives like they talk to their daughters (both like slaves.) But think about what that man from Brooklyn recognized in those 20 young black men prostrating at the prison. He saw that these men were attracted to a way of life that was concrete. These Muslim men—most of whom grew up without fathers—suddenly found a solid and clear-thinking system of religion that did not require a PhD in theology to tell you the rules didn’t apply to you if you know how to play this or that theological game. No, those inner-city men had had enough childish games in their adolescence to land them in prison. Now, they had something clear-thinking, something the male mind longs for, even if it sunk its teeth into something as sick and violent as Islam.

If a religion without a loving Father (Islam) has attracted men without fathers, how much more will the plan of a loving Father change our nation if we can be clear-thinking and clear speaking? We don’t want to make Kouachi-brothers of a new militant-Catholic-bent, but see my point: How much more do Catholic men contain a capacity for reaching the inner-cities of America if we can become unafraid of a full Catholic vocabulary? The maternally-run suburbs of America could use some good men, too. We as Catholics have the unique ability to reveal both the mercy of God and the expectations of God to a hurting and very confused nation. The peace in the womb doesn’t begin with women. It begins with men exercising self-control and protecting the women in their lives. It is peace that Jesus seeks to give us, but not as the world gives it.

Most young Catholic men secretly long for coaches, priests and mentors who will actually believe in them as sons. Young men long to see their dads (biological and spiritual) keep the high bar, not found in the confessional of priests who tell the penitent that because his masturbation “is an addiction, it is not done with full consent.” That’s a copout of responsibility for one’s penitents. No man ever wanted to live within a “dispensation” of weakness. Rather, most young men actually respond to a tough coach who believes in them. They want to be told that they can reach the high bar of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They want to give their lives away with other brothers.

In July of 2007, Pope Benedict wrote Summorum Pontificum to again promote the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. He had a very interesting line in there: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” This is an important sentence because it shows that God, as Father, does not change His mind for His family, based on the fads and whims of the time. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”—Hebrews 13:8.

Mass attendance statistics are pretty good proof that our hearts resonate with something “eternal” more than “pastoral.” Why? Because there is protection and freedom in God’s eternal order found in the liturgy. There is protection in the house rules, the unfolding of the Universe, the beauty of the Church, the two-parent Family. Rules without relationship leads to rebellion. But relationship without rules leads to a surrender without content—indeed, a surrender that is short-lived.

To be sure, the Gospel is ever ancient and ever new, with new creativities of evangelization growing out of every century of the Church that were surprising and unexpected. But as GK Chesterton wrote: “The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

This was originally published under the title Why Pastoral Dispensations Lose Catholic Men.

Were the Apostles Buffoons before Pentecost?

I must admit that there is something attractive and even accurate to the thesis that the Apostles were buffoons before they had the full transformation that happened at Pentecost.  First, Mother Angelica points out that they never seemed to catch anything on their own even as fishermen!  “Jesus chose a bunch of stinky fishermen” she reminds us as to why God chose someone like her to be a cloistered-evangelist to the nations in founding EWTN.

We have Christ’s disciples’ obvious sins, like Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus.  And yet, after the Resurrection, Jesus does not say “Peter, about denying me three nights ago…You can still remain my disciple, but I’m going to have to pass-along this whole first-Pope thing.”   No.  After the threefold denial, Jesus gives Peter on that Sunday beach of the resurrection a full three attempts to move from simply liking Him (φιλεῖς με)  to actually loving him (ἀγαπᾷς με.)  Peter is embarrassed that he can’t honestly answer that he had any form of unconditional love for his friend who just died for him.

Jesus sees Peter’s humility and is not worried.  Our Lord simply says: “Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep.”  He knows that Peter will live up to the task.  Peter had trusted in himself and fallen hard.  But now, Peter is humbled enough to lead the Church…and Peter himself would be led to a cross where he would one day die, believing he was not worthy to die in the same shape as the Son of God.  His executors agreed, and turned him upside down.

But it wasn’t just their bad fishing skills or their sins that made the Apostles look like buffoons.  Without any blasphemy to the saints (and yes, the saints can be blasphemed) the evangelists made it clear that the Apostles occasionally answered as buffoons: 

Jesus said:  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.—John 4:11-14

Come on.  Really.  They thought that Jesus Himself didn’t actually know that asleep people wake up?  Apparently not.  No other explanation suffices.

or consider how obtuse they are later on the boat:

And [Jesus] cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.—Mark 8:14

I can hear Homer Simpson saying to Chief Wiggum “I understaaaaand.”   Yes, they were apparently thinking about food when Jesus said something as spiritual as “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”  This paints a picture of men astoundingly obtuse to the spiritual sense of things.

But now I want to consider some evidence that the Apostles were not buffoons.  First of all, of all Ancient Near-East nations, very few tribes were as literate as the Jews in the first century.  Children began memorizing the torah with honey on the letters at very tender ages.  In fact, they had a large part of the Hebrew Scriptures memorized by the time they were 12 years old.  We live in a time when most priests can not even name the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, so we tend to project our poor catechesis on the Apostles.  But the Apostles would have know the Jewish faith, salvation history and the Hebrew Scriptures through and through and through, long before they met the Son of God face-to-face.  This is a historical reality, not a pious hope.  Just ask any well-read Israeli about first century life out there.

The Apostles were fishermen by trade.  But originally they had “tried out”(like all 12 year old Hebrew boys at one point) to become a rabbi.  This happens by being chosen at the age of 12 or so by a rabbi to be one who learns from him for years.  Many years earlier, the Apostles had probably tried out but failed.  But they had failed only compared to the real brainiacs of the day.  This means that the Apostles would have had a large chunk of the entire Old Testament memorized long before they took their consolation prize of fishing (irony of ironies, considering which rabbi ended up choosing them as adults.)

But we must get rid of this idea that the Apostles were blue-collar morons if we really want to understand 1st century rabbinical Judaism.  In fact, the parents of the Apostles expected them to be religious warriors to liberate Israel from Rome!  How do we know this?  Because half of the Apostles reflect the names found only in the family of Judas Maccabeus, the last family and book of the Old Testament.  Notice that half of the Apostles come from Maccabees in the Old Testament (Simon x 2, Judas x 2, John x 1.)  In fact, only the latter is found anywhere besides Maccabees in the whole Old Testament!  1

But now let’s fast forward to some grown Apostles:  Peter’s brother is Andrew, and today is the feast of St. Andrew (30 November).  The above picture is him instructing one of his early disciples, assumedly in modern-day Turkey.  Similarly, it was Andrew who first introduced his brother Peter to Jesus Christ:

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus.—John 1:40-42b

What was Andrew doing before he brought Peter to Jesus?  Although Andrew may not have gone to sit from a rabbi in one of the main yeshivas (schools,  ישיבה, literally meaning “sitting,” as  you sit at the foot of a rabbi) we often forget that he was already following the greatest prophet of the old and new Testaments:  John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was not Jesus’ schizophrenic cousin in the forest like some movies portray him to be.  John the Baptist is he of whom Jesus said “No man born of woman is greater than him.”—Matthew 11:11.

Notice two paragraphs above that Andrew introduces Peter to Jesus very very early in John’s Gospel.  In fact, it happened in chapter one!  How do we know that St. Andrew was already following St. John the Baptist before meeting Jesus?  Because just a few verses before that, Andrew follows Jesus at the very referral and command of John the Baptist (Andrew’s first own master and rabbi) to do so.  Notice that this happens just before what I described two paragraphs above:

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.—John 1:35-37.

Can you imagine those three years of walking next to Jesus under a tree and eleven annoying-but-beloved friends?  They must have wondered:  What would Jesus say next?  Where would He lead them?  What miracle would come next?  Which Pharisee would He anger today?  Life would have been pure adventure.  And yet, and yet…after the crucifixion, they are left with little faith.  Those Apostles are hiding out for fear that they will be the next crucified Galileans, after their master and rabbi was mercilessly tortured and laid in the earth.  Some messiah to liberate Israel from Rome!

But after they experience the Risen Christ, everything changes.  They now believe.  I believe that the greatest proof of the Resurrection is that 11 fearful men, literally hiding from the authorities on the first Holy Saturday, are the same men that traverse the globe and are now responsible for the fact that there are 2 billion Christians on the earth.  How else could Galilean fishermen have gone from as far West as Spain (St. James) and as far East as India (St. Thomas) if they had not stuck their fingers into the nails of the Risen Jesus or the fist into His side?  They were truly transformed.  (Oh, and some say that Thomas made it all the way to China, but I won’t weigh in on that here.)

They have perfect knowledge of Christ at the resurrection, but the perfection of charity comes at Pentecost with Mary at their side, giving them all boldness and miracles to begin the full transformation of the world!  So, yes, I do believe that there was a transformation in the lives and hearts at the Resurrection and even more at Pentecost.  Perhaps even the personalities of the Apostles after the Resurrection and Pentecost are a bit changed.  Either way, grace perfects nature without destroying it.

Because of this, we can be encouraged by the many falls of the personalities of the Bible when we consider how faithful God is to us, even when we are not faithful.  Not that we want this to lead to presumption on God’s mercy, but St. Therese said:  “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall.  Only how many times you get back up.”  In fact, this is truly exemplified in the many stupid decisions of the Apostles before Pentecost, and how Jesus does not only refrain from retracting His love, but He doesn’t retract His friendship, either.  In fact, even their leadership as bishops and Pope of the early Church remains untouched despite all their personality flaws (impetuous, hungry, sleepy, dull, angry, etc) much like what you encounter in priests today, even in the confessional!  As long as they kept the true faith and transmitted it as Christ gave it, falls among the first bishops and pope could be endured.

But we also have to put together the facts to see that the Apostles were not buffoons before Pentecost. They came from arguably the most literate culture ever on the fact of the globe (the Jews, even under occupation) and had memorized more books of the Bible by the age of 12 than most American Catholics will even read in the Bible their whole life.  They were following the second greatest prophet to walk the earth, St. John the Baptist, before they were instructed on the beach by Yahweh Himself for three years, long before Pentecost.  So, yes, the Apostles made some stupid comments in the Gospels and even some serious sins, but they were the most highly-educated fishermen that you ever did meet.

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Burial spot of St. Andrew's body that I snapped off the Amalfi coast, Pascha 2016.

  1. This should show any Protestant why it was wrong to take Maccabees out of the Bible, and that first century Jews surely considered it canonical if half of the parents of the Apostles would name their kids after names found only in Maccabees.