***Pope John Paul II, 1920 – 2005, RIP: We remember how he called us to go forth in courage. “Be not afraid!” (Rome, 1978) He reminded us of our duty to evangelize. “Witnessing to Christ means challenging American culture, especially when the truth about the human person is under assault.” (Baltimore, 1995) He urged us to defend life. “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope!” (Rome, 1996) He reminded us who was boss. “Human life is precious because it is the gift of a God whose love is infinite; and when God gives life it is forever!” (Washington, D.C., 1979) He spoke in exclamation points with arms widespread like Jesus on the cross and in his final days taught us to suffer well and hope unto death. John Paul II, we love you! May the angels welcome you to paradise.
***Is Benedict XVI the herald of the dawn? Les Femmes rejoices in the election of Pope Benedict XVI and takes it as a good sign that his honeymoon with the major media lasted ten seconds [or less]. After all, “Blessed are you when men persecute you and utter all manner of slander against you.” An ABC poll shows 81% of Catholics are happy over Cardinal Ratzinger’s election, but the network buried the results under a deluge of invective. CBS and NBC joined lockstep to label the pope “God’s rottweiler,” implying his viciousness, and piling on the negative adjectives: ultraconservative, controversial, reactionary, medieval, hardline, etc. They celebrate the angry rants of “Catholic” feminists, sexual deviants, and dissenters. Homosexual activists are foaming at the mouth in their fury. Matt Foreman of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force accuses the Pope of “unrelenting venomous hatred” for daring to speak the truth about the intrinsic disordered nature of same-sex orientation. Expect the attacks to continue and escalate. Media Research Center, reporting on the hostile treatment of the pope, contrasted it to media coverage of sodomite Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson. “Robinson was spared any nasty personal nicknames. He was never even described as ‘liberal’ or ‘radical,’ and reporters couldn’t manage to use the word ‘activist’ to describe him.” The world loves its own! [Pray and fast for Pope Benedict XVI – not a rottweiler, but a German shepherd protecting the sheep.]
***Is he the pope in John Bosco’s dream? St. John Bosco, renowned for his prophetic dreams, sometimes knew when boys in his oratory would die and who was in mortal sin. A famous dream is that of the two columns. He saw the Church as a ship in a raging storm. “In the midst of the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance the one from the other. On the top of one, there is the statue of the Immaculate Virgin…on the other which is much higher and bigger, stands a Host of great size …The supreme commander on the big ship is the Sovereign Pontiff. He, on seeing the fury of the enemies and the evils among which his faithful find themselves, determines to summon around himself the captains of the smaller ships to hold a council…All the captains come aboard…. They hold a meeting, but meanwhile the wind and waves gather in storm, so they are sent back to control their own ships. There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains together around him….But the frightful storm returns. The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns….All the enemy ships move to attack it… some with writings or books or inflammable materials …others with guns, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages…the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. Sometimes…struck by formidable blows it gets large, deep gashes in its sides….All at once the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies….But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another Pope takes his place. The pilots…have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of his successor ….The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns…he makes it fast …to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and…he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin. Then a great convulsion takes place. All the ships that until then had fought against the Pope’s ship are scattered; they flee away, collide and break to pieces….Some sink and try to sink others. Several small ships that had fought gallantly for the Pope race to be the first to bind themselves to those two columns….Over the sea there reigns a great calm.” (From St. John Bosco’s Biographical Memoirs, Vol. VII, Ch. XVIII, pg. 169FF.)
***And the meaning? John Bosco explained part of his prophetic dream. The Church is indeed the ship that carries the Pope. The smaller ships fighting with her are the faithful who love the Holy See. The enemy ships are persecutions and St. John tells us, “the most serious trials for the church are near at hand. That which has been so far is almost nothing in the face of that which must befall….Only two means are left to save [the Church] amidst so much confusion: devotion to Mary Most Holy and frequent Communion.”
John Bosco described this dream on May 30, 1862. He died in 1889. The horrors of the “war to end all wars,” WWII, and the bloodbaths of fascism and communism were yet to come. He said nothing about the portion of his vision relating to the death of one Pope and the election of another. Consider this scenario. Pope, Pius the IX, summons his captains, the cardinals, to the first Vatican Council in 1869 and addresses the serious problem of modernism including attacks from writings and books which continue to this day. The Council is interrupted by the storm of the Franco-Prussian War and the cardinals return to their own sees. It never officially closes. Over the next 75 years storms continue to rage with World Wars I and II and the rise of Communism. Then there is a lull and Pope John XXIII convenes Vatican II. The frightful storm returns with the tsunami of dissent after the Council and on-going persecution of Christians all over the world. As St. John tells us, the worst trials are “near at hand” as the smoke of Satan enters Holy Mother Church herself. The Pope who falls and is lifted up is obviously Pope John Paul II “gravely wounded” in the assassination attempt orchestrated by the Communist KGB. The Pope is again struck, this time by serious illness and dies. In one of the swiftest conclaves in history Pope Benedict XVI is elected almost simultaneously with news of Pope John Paul II’s funeral. He rises to the papacy following a pope whose motto was “Totus Tuus,” totally yours, Mary. The Year of the Eucharist envelopes the death of one Pope and the rise of another.
***Are we seeing the vision fulfilled? Perhaps. The Church tells us we need not believe in personal revelations and prophecies, but St. John’s dream certainly gives rise to hope in those living through the devastation of the last 50 years. The Church teaches the centrality of the Eucharist and Marian devotion to salvation. Pope John Paul II urged Communion twice a day. He introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, filling in the years between the finding of Jesus in the temple and His agony in the garden. We can only wait to see what the reign of Benedict XVI will mean to the world, but St. John Bosco’s vision gives Les Femmes great hope.
***Jesus on the Auction Block at Ebay. Ebay, the massive internet auction, sells all manor of weird stuff for the foolish and gullible: a grilled cheese sandwich with an “image” of the Blessed Mother, a cane accompanied by the deceased owner’s ghost, even the Pope Benedict’s old car [bought by a casino!]. But Ebay struck bottom [as in bottom-feeder] when they allowed the sale of hosts allegedly consecrated by John Paul II at papal Masses in the U.S. and England. Originally Ebay defended its actions citing diversity of belief. Their credibility suffered when The Catholic League revealed they ban selling prayer sticks and other objects used in native-American religious ceremonies. [Hey, sacred eagle feathers come from an endangered species!] More than 9,000 complaints and a threatened boycott helped Ebay see the light. “As a result of this dialogue, [and fear of losing Catholic money] we have concluded that sales of the Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on EBay...And [we] will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future.” [Duh!]
***The moral of the story is… #1 - Don’t be silent in the face of grave moral evil. #2 – Money talks! Not just with Ebay. Remember the power of the purse next time Fr. Randy commits liturgical shenanigans. #3 – Don’t take Communion in the hand. Before the change you didn’t find consecrated hosts dropped in the pews, stuffed into wedding programs, or tacked on dormitory walls. Desecration was possible, but difficult. Now…desecration is pandemic!
***Besides, the Church prefers on the tongue! Communion in the hand is an indult, an exceptional practice allowed in the U.S. because many misguided bishops encouraged disobedience among their people and then used the rampant disobedience that ensued to demand the change. Rome agreed reluctantly. But now hear this:
Pope Paul VI: Holy Communion received on the tongue "signifies the reverence of the faithful for the Eucharist ... provides that Holy Communion will be distributed with due reverence...is more conducive to faith, reverence and humility.... It [Communion in the hand] carries certain dangers with it which may arise from the new manner of administering Holy Communion: the danger of a loss of reverence for the August sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine." (in his instruction Memoriale Domini, May 29, 1969)
John Paul II: "There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it." responding to a reporter from Stimme des Glaubens magazine, during his visit to Fulda, Germany in November 1980.)
Dietrich von Hildebrand: "There can be no doubt that Communion in the hand is an expression of the trend towards desacralization in the Church in general and irreverence in approaching the Eucharist in particular.... Why—for God's sake—should Communion in the hand be introduced into our churches when it is evidently detrimental from a pastoral viewpoint, when it certainly does not increase our reverence, and when it exposes the Eucharist to the most terrible diabolical abuses? There are really no serious arguments for Communion in the hand. But there are the most gravely serious kinds of arguments against it." (from an article entitled "Communion in the Hand should be Rejected," November 8, 1973. Pope Pius XII called the author a “20th century doctor of the Church.”
Fr. John Hardon, S.J.: "Behind Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.... Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.”(November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference, Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion.)
***Show your belief in the Real Presence; take Communion on the tongue! PASS IT ON!
***More good news from the twilight before the dawn zone! Twenty-three U.S. bishops reach 75 in ‘05 and we hope some get their resignation acceptances by instant message. Among those gone or in the exit lane are Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, champion of all things perverse and disordered; Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. who is likely embarrassed over his suppression of the famous Cardinal Ratzinger letter saying pro-abort politicians should be denied Holy Communion; and David Foley of Birmingham who tangled with Mother Angelica over priests celebrating televised Masses at EWTN facing the altar (and the nuns) rather than the public congregation. More good news is the ousting of Fr. Tom Reese from America Magazine, the liberal Jesuit weekly. [What’s the canning of one liberal Jesuit? A slow start!] The Jesuits bash the faith, especially on college campuses where sexual morality is taught via “The V***** Monologues” and contraceptives are likely offered at Student Health. Let’s pray