Keep your eyes open!...






 

January 19, 2018  

(Deu 30:19) I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

LIFENEWS.COM: Trump to Be First Sitting President to Address March for Life

OFFICIAL MARCH FOR LIFE WEBSITE: http://marchforlife.org/

CNA:
March for Life events planned across the US

ANGELUSNEWS: Abortion clinic ‘help’ vs. pro-life center love

FROM THE MAILBAG
VIA
Reverend George William Rutler, S.T.D.: The romantic soul of William Wordsworth thrilled over the French Revolution: “Oh! Pleasant exercise of hope and joy! . . . Bliss was it in the dawn to be alive. But to be young was very heaven!” He crossed the Channel to see it in action, but when the Terror began he fled in horror. Then there is the story of Beethoven tearing up the first page of his Sinfonia Eroica, originally dedicated to Napoleon, upon news that his hero had succumbed to the vanity of a crown. The anarchist Emma Goldman hailed the Russian Revolution, but when fact obliterated her fantasy, she acidly described the Bolshevik State “crushing every constructive revolutionary effort, suppressing, debasing, and disintegrating everything.” The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact shattered the illusions of many armchair Communists.

Disillusionment can decay into cynicism, but it can also be a salvific dose of reality. Eugenicists in the last century envisioned a demographic utopia, only to find that illusion cruelly mocked by the Nazi death camps and made macabre by abortion mills today. Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn of Grosse Point, Michigan are just the latest of people on trial for trafficking in the body parts of unborn babies. In 2013 the FBI discovered in their warehouse over one thousand heads, limbs and organs of infants. Their indictment seems to have been delayed because of what was previously a political reluctance to implicate Planned Parenthood. Increasing numbers of our population are recognizing unpleasant truths.

Recent changes by our Executive Branch mark a shift in policy—reinstating the pro-life Mexico City Policy, moving to defund the United Nations Population Fund, expanding the religious exemption to the Health and Human Services Department’s contraception mandate, and favoring a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—as well as encouraging the annual March for Life this January 19, marking the 45th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision. One does not want to be overly optimistic, but illusions are being shattered and, save for stone hearts, the consciences of many may be recognizing the consequences of naïvely underestimating the forces of evil cloaked as social progress.

The Scottish king Robert the Bruce provided a lesson in persistence. Defeated in battle, he was tempted to give up, but for three months he took refuge in a cave where he watched a spider persevere in building a web, after failing numerous times. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” The line has edified schoolchildren, but it also helped the Bruce secure his kingdom after victory at Bannockburn. Various places claim the site of the cave—Dumfriesshire, Arran Island, Craigie, Taitlin Island—but that cave is wherever people learn from their mistakes and do not succumb to cynicism. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

ARCHIVES FIRST THINGS: The March for Life in year 44 (2017) by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

CATHOLICPHILLY.COM: Young people at forefront of pro-life fight called ‘new Magi’ of movement


MORE MARCH FOR LIFE UPDATES

14th Walk for Life continues pro-life, pro-woman message
March lauded for witnessing to life; participation in '9 Days' urged
Archdiocese Of Philadelphia To Participate In 2018 March For Life In Washington D.C.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 21- "On unmanly and puerile cowardice"

4. A proud soul is a slave of cowardice; it vainly trusts in itself, and is afraid of any sound or shadow of creatures.


January 16, 2018
 

(Rom 1:16-19) For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first and to the Greek. For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them.

EXCERPT NEWS RELEASE: President Donald J. Trump Proclaims January 16, 2018, as Religious Freedom Day

Faith is embedded in the history, spirit, and soul of our Nation. On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate the many faiths that make up our country, and we commemorate the 232nd anniversary of the passing of a State law that has shaped and secured our cherished legacy of religious liberty.

Our forefathers, seeking refuge from religious persecution, believed in the eternal truth that freedom is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God. On the coattails of the American Revolution, on January 16, 1786, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. This seminal bill, penned by Thomas Jefferson, states that, “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” Five years later, these principles served as the inspiration for the First Amendment, which affirms our right to choose and exercise faith without government coercion or reprisal.

Today, Americans from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds remain steadfast in a commitment to the inherent values of faith, honesty, integrity, and patriotism. Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion. Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy. Therefore, soon after taking office, I addressed these issues in an Executive Order that helps ensure Americans are able to follow their consciences without undue Government interference and the Department of Justice has issued guidance to Federal agencies regarding their compliance with laws that protect religious freedom. No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.

The United States is also the paramount champion for religious freedom around the world, because we do not believe that conscience rights are only for Americans. We will continue to condemn and combat extremism, terrorism, and violence against people of faith, including genocide waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. We will be undeterred in our commitment to monitor religious persecution and implement policies that promote religious freedom. Through these efforts, we strive for the day when people of all faiths can follow their hearts and worship according to their consciences.

REVIEW: Religious freedom has won some key battles recently

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CHURCH TEACHING ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Redemptor Hominis Excerpts from the Encyclical Letter of Pope St. John Paul II

"The requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world." (No. 12)

"Certainly the curtailment of the religious freedom of individuals and communities is not only a painful experience but it is above all an attack on man's very dignity, independently of the religion professed or of the concept of the world which these individuals and communities have. The curtailment and violation of religious freedom are in contrast with man's dignity and his objective rights. The Council document mentioned above states clearly enough what that curtailment or violation of religious freedom is. In this case we are undoubtedly confronted with a radical injustice with regard to what is particularly deep within man, what is authentically human." (No. 17)

"Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes, and that this must be our aim in the lives of individuals and societies. In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good. Christ teaches us that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-giving and in service. For this "freedom Christ has set us free" and ever continues to set us free. The Church draws from this source the unceasing inspiration, the call and the drive for her mission and her service among all mankind. The full truth about human freedom is indelibly inscribed on the mystery of the Redemption." (No. 21)

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 21- "On unmanly and puerile cowardice"

3. Fear is a rehearsing of danger beforehand; or again, fear is a trembling sensation of the heart, alarmed and troubled by unknown misfortunes. Fear is a loss of assurance.


January 15, 2018
 

(Mat 28:19-20) Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

MULTIMEDIA COVERAGE: Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Chile and Peru | Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

VIDEO: Pope Francis sends video message to Chile and Peru: “The Church sees you”

NEWS REPORT: 'The next firebomb is for the Pope': Churches in Chile are attacked days before the Pontiff is due in the country

THE TABLET: Tensions Ahead of Papal Visit to Chile

Pope Francis departs on Monday for a trip to Chile and Peru for what will be his sixth visit to Latin America, where issues of clerical sexual abuse and church renewal are likely to feature. The question of abuse is likely to loom largest in Chile where the Pope has faced criticism for appointing Osorno’s Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up abuse by a prominent priest, Fr Fernando Karadima in the 1980s and 90s. Peter Saunders, a British abuse survivor who recently resigned as a member of the Pope’s child protection commission, says he plans to be in Chile to try and highlight the case. Bishop Barros’ appointment has been a divisive one with 650 people turning up in protest during his ordination ceremony that saw the new bishop needing protection from ushers in order to enter the cathedral.

In impromptu remarks to a group of Chilean pilgrims following a Wednesday General Audience, the Pope criticised Osorno’s protesters saying leftist politicians were leading them “by the nose” and had been allowed to “fill people’s heads, judging a bishop without any evidence.” The Vatican judged Karadima to have abused children and sentenced him to a life of prayer and penitence. Bishop Barros, who was accused of protecting Karadima, has denied covering up. Meanwhile, opinion polls say that just 36 per cent of the Catholic majority population are looking forward to the papal visit with the surveys citing indifference, irritation with the Chilean hierarchy and scepticism about the cost (officially 10 million Chilean pesos or £122,000).

The Pope’s trips to the two countries will follow a similar format to his others: he will meet with the country’s presidents, bishops and say Masses in front of large crowds. While in Chile he will make time for lunch with indigenous Mapuche people from the Araucania region and in Peru have a meeting with people of the Amazon. The Mapuche meeting could prove controversial given they lived in Chile before Spanish colonisers arrived in the sixteenth century, and there are ongoing land disputes between the Government and the indigenous people.

RELATED: Why Pope Francis will visit Chile's Araucania region

VATICAN NEWS: The indigenous peoples of the Amazon await Pope Francis

IN FULL: Pope Francis’s schedule for Chile and Peru trip

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 21- "On unmanly and puerile cowardice"

2. Cowardice is a childish disposition in an old, vainglorious soul. Cowardice is a falling away from the faith that comes of expecting the unexpected.


January 12, 2018
 

(Jer 1:5) Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and made thee a prophet unto the nations.

POPE FRANCIS: The Pope noted after 70 years have passed, he is pained to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today, especially the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security. He noted that not only war or violence infringe these rights. “In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults".

IRISH ARCHBISHOP ÉAMON MARTIN
: Abortion is “Always Evil and Can Never be Justified”

PRIESTS FOR LIFE ACTION ALERT: Sign on to letters urging Democratic Senators to vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act!

NC REGISTER
: Connected for Life in 2018: March for Life’s Digital Media Seeks to Empower Activism

Preview of the the 45th-annual march and how people committed to standing up for the unborn are reaching out to one another.

COURAGEOUS PRIEST: When Being Pro-life Means Being Attacked by Christians and the Culture by Fr. Stephen Imbarrato

There is a trend going on in the pro-life collective that I find quite concerning and even dangerous. There is growing criticism of certain aspects (tactics) of the collective that others from within are referencing as unloving and lacking compassion. There are more so those inside the collective who believe that some people or groups in the collective are anti gay and anti transgender, haters and intolerant. Such criticisms or accusations within the collective have been growing the last couple of years. And the pattern I see is that if there is any defense or push back against these accusations (which I believe are largely false and made up) whether the accusations originate in some instances from perception minded corporate ministries or worse from people who are either clearly anti marriage and anti family, then those who stand up for the truth and for what is right and just morally are being chastised and even marginalized.

This is a microcosm actually of what we are seeing in the culture. The forces that are undermining life, marriage, and family, label those who believe in moral absolutes and traditional long held values as haters, bigots, anti women, and of course, now anti gay and anti transgender. Some of these attacks are quite serious and blatant and in almost all instances, false and made up. Yet when some of the moral traditionalists stand up for the truth in the face of these attacks, they are chastised within their own ranks for whatever reason.

This is evident within the Church. Good priests standing up for the faith being chastised and punished because they speak out when they see pastoral abuses when, in the name of being loving and tolerant, many ignore or tolerate behaviors that are against the truth, detrimental to souls, and offensive to God.

I can remember a time before I entered the seminary that by broadening our pro-life focus beyond anti abortion to a broader chastity message, we were able to get into venues such as public high schools that previously would not be inviting toward us st all. Within the chastity message, we would also talk about the abortion issue. It was an effective strategy.

I see a similar pattern happening in the pro-life collective but somewhat in reverse. Anti marriage and anti family influences who have taken up the pro-life position have gained acceptance and a platform for their broader agenda. They are now using the same rhetoric that others within the collective had already deployed for much longer…that certain aspects of the movement are not loving and compassionate; that they are harsh and judgmental. Accusations fly at will often in the form of implications that some groups (tactics) are loving, caring, compassionate, and embracing of women; the implication always being that other groups or tactics are not as such. Yet when those attacked stand up for the truth, whether it be continuing what they do in good conscience, push back in defending themselves, or even expose a particular agenda especially in the case of the anti family, anti marriage influences, these traditionalists (for lack of a better word) are often chastised and called out as being divisive or again not loving or embracing.

As I have pointed out, this reality has become a common occurrence on many levels and I think it needs to be confronted on the broader scale and particularly within the pro-life collective. Standing up for the truth is never unloving. Almost without exception those who do so act in good conscience according to the Holy Spirit. Yes sometimes it gets messy because it is getting harder and harder today to speak the truth, show the truth, and in some cases act in truth, but it is never unloving and those who do this messy, hard stuff within the collective should never be the ones who are felt marginalized because others want some false and illusory version of inclusion and unity or are concerned about perception or image.

We Christians should not be surprised by any of this. Christ spoke about such divisions within families and He also warned us that for His sake, we would be persecuted, insulted, and spoken falsely about. However He also encourages us! “Rejoice and be glad! Your reward will be great in heaven.” I encourage everyone who stands on the moral absolutes of life, family, and marriage to continue to do so regardless of the cultural attacks rendered and especially to stand courageously when those attacks come from within our own organizational or institutionalized families.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 21- "On unmanly and puerile cowardice"

1. If you pursue virtue in a monastery or coenobium, you are not likely to be attacked much by cowardice. But the man who spends his time in more solitary places should make every effort to avoid being overcome by that offspring of vainglory, that daughter of unbelief, cowardice.


January 10, 2018  

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

CNA: Pope's latest prayer video highlights religious persecution in Asia

CHRISTIAN TIMES: Persecution Trends Report lists China, India as top countries of concern for 2018

ALETEIA: Christians who have given their life for Christ in 2017

VATICAN
: Missionaries killed in 2017

In the year 2017, 23 Catholic pastoral care workers were killed worldwide: 13 priests, 1 religious brother, 1 religious sister, 8 lay persons. For the eighth consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral care workers killed is AMERICA, where 11 pastoral care workers were killed (8 priests, 1 religious brother, 2 lay people); in Africa 10 pastoral care workers were killed (4 priests, 1 religious sister, 5 lay people); in Asia 2 pastoral care workers were killed (1 priest, 1 lay person).

According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, from 2000 to 2016, 424 pastoral care workers were killed worldwide, including 5 Bishops. As it has been for some time, Fides’ list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense, but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths. We do not propose to use the term "martyrs", if not in its etymological meaning of "witnesses" since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the scarsity of available information in most cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death.

Once again the majority of the pastoral care workers were killed in attempted robbery, and in some cases violently attacked, a sign of the climate of moral decline, economic and cultural poverty, which generates violence and disregard for human life.

In these situations, priests, religious and laity share the same daily life with ordinary people, bringing the specific value of their evangelical witness as a sign of hope. Those who were killed are only the tip of the iceberg, as the list of pastoral workers or simple Catholics, assaulted, beaten, robbed, threatened, as well as Catholic structures at the service of the entire population, assaulted, vandalized or looted is certainly long. The provisional list compiled annually by Agenzia Fides, must therefore be added to the long list of many of whom there may never be news, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ. Hardly any investigations conducted by the local authorities lead to identifying and convicting the perpetrators and the instigators of these killings or the reasons why they were carried out.

The condemnation of the instigator of the assassination of Spanish Jesuit missionary Vicente Canas, who was killed in Brazil in 1987, is exemplary. In the first trial, celebrated in 2006, the defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence; the new trial on 29 and 30 November, led to the condemnation of the instigator, the only survivor out of the those who were accused.

ACN: Persecuted & Forgotten? – A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2015-2017

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Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

11. Long sleep is an unjust comrade; it robs the lazy of half their life, and even more.


January 8, 2018
 

(Mar 1:9-11) And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in Jordan. And forthwith coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens open and the Spirit as a dove descending and remaining on him. And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

POPE FRANCIS: "The Spirit is the artifice of Jesus’ Baptism and also of our Baptism. It’s the Spirit that opens the eyes of our heart to truth, to the whole truth. He pushes our life on the path of charity. He is the gift that the Father gave to each one of us on the day of our Baptism. He, the Spirit, transmits to us the tenderness of divine forgiveness."

INSTITUTE OF CATHOLIC CULTURE: The Baptism of Our Lord

Today, the Roman Catholic Church continues its festal celebrations by commemorating the Baptism of the Lord. Therefore, let us reflect upon the Sacrament of Baptism in order to enter more fully into this mystery in our own lives.

Let us recall that Baptism is not a uniquely Christian practice, but one that was prevalent among the Jews of Jesus’ day. In order to gain a true understanding of baptism, it is necessary to reflect upon what it meant to the people from whom it originated. It was not uncommon for the Jews of Jesus’ day and the early Church to see in baptism a correlation with certain Old Testament events. Saint Peter, in his second epistle, explains that our baptism corresponds to the flood of Noah. Just as in those ancient days when all evil men perished under the waters of the great deluge, so in our baptism, the sinful man is destroyed (2 Pet 2:5). Further, our baptism can be seen as a new crossing of the Red Sea. As Saint Paul explains, the Israelites underwent a baptism when Pharaoh and the Egyptians were buried under the waters of the sea and the people of God were saved and called to walk in the new life which God had bestowed upon them (1 Cor 10:2). Also, we may see our baptism as a type of Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River after forty years of wandering in the desert. Just as Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land through the waters of the Jordan, so each of us who is baptized is led by Jesus into the promised land of the Church.

These Old Testament prefigurements of Christian Baptism receive their full meaning, however, at the Baptism of the Lord. What happened when Jesus was baptized? The Fathers of the Church give three answers.
Saint Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, gives the following catechesis,

“Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. If we have been united with him though likeness to his death, so shall we be through a like resurrection” (1 Cor. 6: 3-4).

Therefore, as Saint Paul explains, baptism is a sacramental act whereby we are mystically joined to the death and resurrection of Christ.

In his baptism, Jesus has reversed the curse of the fall. In his baptism, Christ has opened for the faithful that garden of delight closed by sin. In his baptism, Christ has restored Adam to all that he lost through disobedience. Let us who have been baptized into Christ see the ancient deceiver conquered. Let us who have been baptized into Christ see the baptismal waters as the place of sanctification for our souls. Let us who have been baptized into Christ see man once more enter into Paradise and hear the Father’s words of mercy, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).

FATHER JOHN A HARDON, S.J.: Baptism, the Sacrament of Regeneration and the Supernatural Life

ALETEIA: 12 New Year’s resolutions for 12 months, from Pope Francis

A guide for making the most out of 2018.
  1. Build bridges, not walls
  2. Let yourself be moved by suffering … and then do something
  3. Don’t be afraid to be ashamed of yourself and recognize when you’ve done wrong
  4. Dream of love
  5. Avoid attachment to riches
  6. Pray daily for your health and that of your loved ones
  7. Be strong in faith so as to overcome division
  8. Work hard for your dignity and that of your family
  9. Don’t let yourself be robbed of hope
  10. Remember that God never abandons us
  11. Find happiness by creating harmony
  12. Know that you are loved, so that you can give love and forgiveness

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

10. The farmer's wealth is gathered on the threshing floor and in the wine-press, but the wealth and knowledge of monks is gathered during the evenings and the night hours while standing at prayer and engaged in spiritual activity.
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