Friday, February 11, 2005

Bible Christian Society

One of my favorite lay organizations in the Catholic Church is the Bible Christian Society. BCS is the bane of fundamentalists, so much so that they won't even try to debate the group's founder, John Martignoni. A native Alabaman, Martignoni has as a goal the conversion of at least half of the Birmingham area to the Church within 40 years.

I think it is fair to say that EWTN, which is headquartered in Birmingham, is also doing much to help achieve this goal.

Anyone who has heard any of Martignoni's tapes knows that this guy has some serious intestinal fortitude. If any layman can do a work that can disarm fundamentalists and convert people to the Church, it is Martignoni.

The man is unflapable.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

News flash: It is February 10th and the Pope is still here

I suppose it is a good thing that I have given up television for Lent. This is because I began my morning yesterday wanting to throw something at the TV after repeatedly hearing speculation on Today that the Pope might resign. (Nicole and I originally agreed to make a morning exception to this penitence in order to hear the weather for the day before leaving.) All Katie Couric could talk about was whether or not the Pope was going to resign. (After all, the Pope didn't make it to Mass at St. Peter's for Ash Wednesday...gasp! The world is coming to an end!) They even had someone calling himself a "Vatican Expert" on there claiming what a historic move it would be for the Pope to resign. To hear some of these people talk, you'd think the Pope was actually going to resign at any moment.

The first problem with this notion is that there has only been one Pope leave office voluntarily in 2,000 years. Just because John Paul is old and feeble does not mean he is unfit for the office of the Successor of Peter. What a sickening mentality it is to say that because someone is old they are incapable of serving God. This is the mentality that prevails in secular society today: The more advanced someone is in age, the less worth they have to the larger community. Apparently, in the eyes of some, that rationale now applies to the Church. It is the same line of thought that causes certain people to tolerate the murder of the aged and disabled under the guise of euthenasia.

There are much more sinister forces at work, here, however, than merely those who would devalue life (those people have always felt that way), and those are the forces that would use the Pope's sickly condition to undermine the Church. Whether they are aware of it or not, NBC and the other networks that constantly feed false speculation about the Pope resigning are siding with a faction in the Church (or rather, they claim to be in the Church) that would love to see the Pope resign. The goal of this group is not to relieve the Pope's suffering, but to set a precident for the removal of future popes so that when the Pope proclaims the Truth to the world, they can chalk it up to old age and sinility and try and force any pope that they don't want to obey to resign. They want to use the Church not to save souls, but as a mere tool of the City of Man. I seriously doubt that John Paul II wants to give these enemies of the Church any satisfaction.

One priest that they had on there this morning had it right, though. He said that in the end, the Pope will do what the Holy Spirit tells him to do. This is what the secular press does not understand: The Church's leader's are chosen by God, and God will keep them in their places or remove them at his pleasure. Leaving office is not up to the Pope, it is up to the Holy Spirit. Whatever he does, the Pope will not lean on his own understanding, but will be guided by the Holy Spirit to do what is best for the Church.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. Christians all over the world will be reminded today that they are but mortal men, and that they must look to the eternal consequences of their actions on this earth when taking actions that affect their souls and the lives of others. Today is a day of mixed emotions. The Holy Season of Lent, which is inaugurated on this day, ought to be viewed as a season of great joy, in addition to being a time of renewed repentance and penance, because God provides this time for his people to look inward at themselves, at their flaws and imperfections, and meditate upon how they may better follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

The faithful will be given ashes today at Mass, and will be told "for dust you are, and to the dust you shall return." This is a reminder of our mortality, and serves to show the person who is merely a nominal believer that not unlike the rest of us, they too shall cross the veil of time that is marked by death, and will face the Lord in judgement. Death is not voluntary, and we do not have the privilege to choose whether our time on earth will end. Just because our time on earth may come to an end, however, does not mean that our existence will also cease. Through Christ, we have the opportunity to choose life everlasting, if we will turn away from sin.

A second possible phrase that some who receive ashes today might hear is "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." We are commanded to do this always, of course, but this phrase is a way to remind the penitent that he or she may be in the world, but is not of it.

Inside every man there is a God-shaped vacuum, which man tries to satify by filling it with the things and pleasures of this world. In doing so, man cannot find fulfillment. That can only be found by totral submission to God, and an acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ. In accepting the Truth of the Trinity, we accept that we will submit ourselves to the dictates of Christ's Church.

It will be my Lenten prayer intention to pray, among other things, for those who will be baptized at Easter. Won't you join me in praying also for the salvation of the whole world?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Throughout much of the Christian world, today is known as "Fat Tuesday," "Shrove Tuesday (or Shrovetide)," "Carneval," or, as we most popularly know it in the French, today is Mardi Gras. Today marks the final day before Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of Lent, a season of the year devoted to the principles of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and abstinence. Christians are called to this kind of life every day, of course, so in the days of yore, not nearly as much emphasis was placed on prayer and almsgiving (you were supposed to be doing that anyway, just remember it especially during Lent), as there was given to fasting and abstinence. As a result, the Tuesday before Lent became the day that the Christian might indulge in that huge beef roast, hasty pudding, chocolate pie, and sugar rolls for one last time before seriously devoting themselves to fasting and abstinence until Easter. Somehow, the custom got started of inviting a few friends over for the blowout. Eventually, the whole neighborhood got in on the act, but it was good clean fun.

Today's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans is not in the spirit of pre-Lenten Christian enjoyment. Rather than promote Christ, today's celebration in that city gives New Orleans, Cajun culture, the Holy Catholic Church, and the season of Lent a bad name. I daresay that a whole lot of the people engaging in that event are not practicing Catholics or Christians of any kind, and are merely using Mardi Gras as an excuse to drunken themselves and engage in debauchery and whoredom. They will not join their Catholic brothers and sisters in Church tomorrow to begin with them a season of penance and justice, instead many will find some other excuse to engage in even more wickedness.

Obviously, the Church does not endorse Mardi Gras celebrations that do not reflect the true spirit of the day, and New Orleans today is no exception to that. The Church does, however, want folks to have some good clean fun today if they feel like it. Whether that is just having a very fattening meal tonight, or having a family or parish celebration, as many people will. Rather than not celebrating Shrove Tuesday, Christians everywhere need to have wholesome celebrations to reclaim the day from the heathens who have corrupted a perfectly good holiday.

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