Monday, May 14, 2012
Religious liberty II
1917 was a very significant year in World History. Pope Benedict XV was imploring the world for peace. The United States had just entered World War I, Lenin was ascending to power in Russia and in Mexico a new constitution was drafted which set the stage for an era of persecution that lasted more than two decades. In April of 1917, Mexican bishops living in San Antonio prepared a letter of protest, affirming that the new constitution "destroys the most sacred rights of the Catholic Church, of Mexican society, and of Christian individuals." Sound familiar? The Catholic Bishops in the US are saying the same thing about the HHS mandate. Warren Carroll, a reknowned historian and founder of Christendom College has written a book titled 1917: Red Banners/White mantle. This is what he has to say: " That evening Woodrow Wilson stood before a wildly cheering Congress to bring the United States of America into the war that was destroying the world. His justification was twofold: first, that Germany had already made war on the United States by its submarines (the American merchantman Aztec had been torpedoed off Ushant, at the tip of France, only the day before); secondly, to 'make the world safe for democracy' and more, to impose democracy on the world. The American political system was to be the standard of right and justice. There was in Woodrow Wilson a deep need to include more than considerations of immediate practical and military necessity in calling for U.S. entry into the war-a need to proclaim for that entry some transcendent purpose, some universal and noble goal. But such a purpose and goal was precisely what this ghastly war had always lacked. Wilson's attempt to invent one was to have immensely destructive consequences, especially for those nations and peoples whose traditions did not harmonize with what Americans regarded as 'democracy.' Yet he acted, then, in the utmost good faith, summing up the agony of his decisions and the visualization of the good he dreamed of flowing from it, toward the end of his address:'It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilizations itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest out hearts-for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.' The principal historical consequence of WWI was to be the establishment, as far into the future as human eyes can see, of the most fearful, pervasive, far-flung tyranny in the history of mankind-a tyrrany so gigantic and so evil that, in the end, only the Mother of God in person can conquer it." Pope Benedict XV was imploring the world for peace but to no avail. Here are his words from May 5, 1917. Here are his words as recorded in Warren Carroll's book: " To Mary, then, who is the Mother of Mercy and omnipotent by grace, let loving and devout appeal fo up from every corner of the earth-from noble temples and tiniest chapels, from royal palaces and mansions of the rich as from the poorest hut-from every place wherein a faithful soul finds shelter-from blood-drenched plains and seas. Let it bear to her the anguished cry of mothers and wives, the wailing of innocent little ones, the sighs of every generous heart: that her most tender and benign solicitude may be moved and the peace we ask for be obtained for our agitated world." Eight days later she appeared on Sunday May 13, 1917. Here are Carroll's words: "It was a glorious spring day in the heart of Portugal. Lucia and Jacinta and Francisco, having been to Mass at the little parish church at Fatima, had taken their sheep to pasture in the grassy depression among the hills called the Cova da Iria. As they played happily, there came out of the cloudless, deep blue sky a brilliant flash of light-and then, in a few minutes, another. There was no thunder, only the flashes. The children, frightened, were running away, when they stopped short upon seeing before them, atop a small evergreen tree about three feet tall, a ball of light, within which stood a Lady clad in white which Lucia later described as 'more brilliant than the sun dispensing light. It was 'not sad, not happy, but serious' Her hands were joined in prayer; a rosary was suspended from her right hand. The children were within two yards of her. 'Don't be afraid' she said.'I won't hurt you.' Her voice was low, musical, gentle. They would never forget the lovely sound of it.' 'Where does your Excellency come from?' asked Lucia, greatly daring. 'I am from Heaven' 'And what is it you want of me?''I come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at the same hour. Then I will tell you who I am and what I want.' She promised all three of them that they would go to Heaven; but then she asked them: 'Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and to ask for the conversion of sinners?' 'Yes, we do.' 'Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort.' She opened her hands. The radiance grew, seeming to penetrate their very souls, 'making us see ourselves in God more clearly in that light than in the best of mirrors,' as Lucia described it later. So far, everything the Lady said had concerned the children personally-their calling their salvation. Now, in her last words to them this day, the Mother of God addressed the immense crisis that had brought her from Heaven: 'Say the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.'" Our Lady of Fatima's words were prophetic. The children did suffer but eventually the war did end. Her peace plan from Heaven is a peace plan all of us should follow. The historic parallels between 1917 and 2012 are striking. Once again, the church is facing persecution. Yesterday in the New London Day there was a hostile op-ed piece attacking Bishop Cote and the Catholic church. It was rife with errors. The main contention was that church teaching on contraception was not accepted by many moral theologians and that it was a teaching that actually husts the poor. Nothing could be farther than the truth. An overwheming majority of Catholic Bishops have spoken out against the HHS mandate and interested readers may wish to do some research on the AIDS epidemic in Uganda. Visit www.catholic.com and do a search for "ABC's of an epidemic". This is an article which outlines that only abstinence, being faithful, and "C" Catholic teaching, not contraception, was effective in drastically reducing the spread of AIDS. It will open your eyes. As for hunger and poverty, the problem is not more children. The problem is greed. Most women who have abortions admit that it is financial concerns for the future that motivate their decisions. Instead of turning to God who is the "source of all good gifts" they trust in themselves. This is the problem with the contraceptive mentality. At its root it violates love because it denies the radical self-gift of one to another. In 1917 it was Freemasonry and socialist ideology which looked to seize upon class conflict to achieve its ends. Nothing has changed. There still are forces that are radically opposed to the truth proposed by the Catholic Church. If the church in the United States of America is to prosper and have a future we need to heed the words of Our Lady of Fatima who appeared to three children in the midst of similar conflict. Her words? "Pray the rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world...."