Friday, April 29, 2011

The Catholic Defender: Second Wind

Growing up an athlete all my life, I've always known the idea of "Second Wind" from personal experience.

In high school, in order to play basketball and baseball, I had to trek nearly 7 miles after practice and games by foot to get home.

That would be in the cold, the rain, snow and heat.

Sometimes it might be late at night and where my Mom's farm was located, it was in the boondocks.

There were no light posts out past the main highway leaving town. Many a time I out run wild dogs, been chased by bears, snakes, and even skunks.

I did this for three years of my high school years. I suppose you can say these years were character builders. I look back today and I am thankful for the experience.

It would help me many times throughout my life. I've had my "Second Wind" many times on a battlefield, explosions with the sounds and cries for "Medic".

I've had my "Second Wind" regarding my holy Catholic Faith as there were times I was hanging on by a scarlet thread.

Only His grace sustained me. Now that I am retired from the Army after 26 years, I am thankful for the past few months preparing me for the next stanza of my life.

I am so thankful to God for his love for me and for his Mother, who is also my Mother. Many times in war when a person is wounded seriously, they will cry out to their Mothers. There is something comforting with knowing your Mother is near.

I love the idea that holding the rosary in your hand is like holding the hand of our Mother Mary. For some of us who have fallen away from the Faith at one time or another, it is a great feeling knowing that the Lord's mercy and forgiveness is real.

From that perspective, I know what that "Second Wind" is. This is really the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the power of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us to strengthen us, motivate us, and give us that "Second Wind" when life seems to weigh you down.

The Catholic Church as an institution even though it is nearly 2,000 years old, kingdoms have come and gone, yet the Church remains.

This past Easter Vigil means so much to me because of the youthful vitality that is the Church. The many conversions from all walks of life continues to give the Church that breath of fresh air.

That "Second Wind" that is so important. Please pray for Pope Benendict as he has much on his shoulders and needs that "Second Wind" to be that leader Christ has called him to be. He has enemies on the outside of the Church, and he has enemies on the inside as they try to wear him down.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us to help us in our walk through life. We do not shoot our wounded that many times need that "Second Wind".

We are quickly moving towards Pentecost, as we reflect what the Lord has done, let us be encouraged that the Battle Belongs To The Lord! We are not alone and left as orphans. No matter how difficult it can get.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Catholic Defender: Easter Vigil

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops News Release:

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2011) —A young adult raised in communist Cuba, an African woman who grew up as a Muslim, a marine being deployed in June, and a former abortion clinic administrator, along with tens of thousands others around the country, are joining the Catholic Church in the United States at Easter.

These catechumens, now known as “the elect,” and candidates for full communion have all participated in a process of conversion and study of the Catholic faith through Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The RCIA has several stages, the most important of which is the moment when they will receive or complete the sacraments of initiation, usually at the Easter Vigil. A catechumen is a person who has never been baptized; a candidate is someone who was baptized in a Christian tradition and now desires to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. In some dioceses, the candidates also include baptized Catholics who never completed their sacraments of initiation and weren’t raised in the faith.

JosĂ© Pujols, is one of the 148 “elect” in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, who will receive the sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist— at the Easter Vigil. His wedding to his fiancĂ© Eli sparked his desire to become a Catholic. Growing up in Cuba (Pujols came to the United States in 1993), he never felt a part of a Church. After going through the RCIA process, he says he especially appreciates the sense of community the Church has brought him. “It’s the best. I feel welcomed and a part of something important. Becoming Catholic has given me this freedom and it feels good.” The ceremony will be all the more special as his baby son, Felix, will also be baptized then. “It’s symbolic in a way to share this with him,” said Pujols.

Ahdija Cheumbike Baker is the daughter of a Detroit man and a Tanzanian woman. She was raised as a Muslim. Ahdija means “to be loved,” and Cheumbike means “one who is blessed.” She is one of the 282 catechumens and candidates that the Catholic Church in New Orleans will be welcoming at Easter. Converting to Christianity from Islam was not an easy decision. Through her young adult life she struggled with some of her Muslim beliefs. “The love of the Lord” and a love interest drove her to start attending a Catholic church. After Hurricane Katrina, “I felt compelled to look for a church to call home so that I could give my thanks to God,” Baker said. “If I had gone to a church that gets you in and out in 45 minutes, I probably wouldn’t have changed my religion; but at St. Peter Claver I feel a deep connection. The way that the priest speaks in his homilies moved me. I felt at home and accepted, and they have become my family.” Her friend’s parents will become her godparents when she is baptized during the Easter Vigil.

Kalene Laforest is an 18-year-old catechumen at St. Peter’s Church in LaGrange, Georgia. She is a Marine and feels a strong urge to join the Catholic Church before going on assignment in June. She said she wanted a faith with depth, history, deep spirituality, tradition, and “no all-over-the-place craziness.” She is among 1,912 new Catholics in the Atlanta Archdiocese.

In the Austin, Texas, area, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and author of the bestselling book “Unplanned,” is getting ready for yet another “unplanned” conversion that will bring her into the Catholic Church. In September 2009, Johnson was asked to hold the ultrasound probe during an abortion. In the monitor, she saw the baby struggle to get away. This experience, and her unease with Planned Parenthood’s emphasis on increasing abortions, gave her the courage to leave her job and undertake a journey of conversion. She went to the Coalition for Life’s office down the street, a Christian pro-life organization whose members were a constant, prayerful and peaceful presence outside the clinic. There she received practical help as she navigated joblessness, legal problems with Planned Parenthood and broken friendships. Her pro-life advocacy also met the disapproval of her pro-choice church. Many of her new friends are Catholic, and through them she has learned about the faith. She and her family will join the Church at Easter, along with 911 others in the Austin Diocese.

Dana Laviano is a baptized Catholic who was raised unchurched. After four years as a secretary at the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, Laviano decided she wanted to go through the RCIA process. She has been chronicling her conversion journey and experiences on a blog ( and is one of 319 catechumens and candidates in the diocese.

For many, taking the step of joining the Church is a family affair. At the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Burlingame, California, seven members of the House family will join the Catholic Church this Easter season. Parents James and Michelle House will come into full communion at the Easter Vigil, and in the following week, infant David, 2 months old, will be baptized and children Kristina, 7, James, 6, Alexandra, 4, and Joseph 2 will be received into the Catholic Church. Michelle House said the family, formerly Episcopalians, found a welcoming community at St. Catherine Parish when they moved to Northern California.

Young people whose parents are in the RCIA program or who are past the usual age for receiving the sacraments of initiation can join a special version of the RCIA for children. The Archdiocese of New Orleans reports that of the 132 catechumens entering the church at Easter, 48 are under age 18; and of the 150 candidates, 10 are children. Likewise, the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, shows that 56 of the 206 catechumens and 28 of 366 candidates are children.

Though larger archdioceses usually boast the largest overall number of converts—New York (1,600), Philadelphia (811) Washington (1,100), Seattle (1,000+), Portland-in-Oregon (875), Cincinnati (1,100), Galveston-Houston (2,490), Atlanta (1,912), Louisville (504), Milwaukee (613), Saint Paul and Minneapolis (643) — the Diocese of San Diego, with 1,253 people (425 catechumens, 828 candidates) entering the Church at Easter, is proof that you don’t need to be large to show some very impressive numbers.

Comparatively smaller (in population) dioceses also report numbers that illustrate the vitality of the Catholic Church in the Midwest, South and Southeast of the United States. The Diocese Birmingham, Alabama, has 487 people joining the Church at Easter; the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, 421 people; the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, 355 people. The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, will add 800 new Catholics; the Diocese of Cleveland, 513; the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, 450; the Diocese of Toledo, 572 people; and Grand Rapids, 568.

The Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, will welcome 434 people (98 elect and 336 candidates). Over half (224) are Hispanic, the fastest growing ethnic group in the diocese.

Some rural dioceses, which encompass an entire state—such as the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, with 195 catechumens, and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, with 128 catechumens and 247 candidates, for a total of 375 soon-to-be new Catholics— also are signs of active and effective evangelizing faith communities.

Even dioceses in remote areas like Juneau, Alaska, where the Catholic communities are few and far apart, small parishes sometimes comprised of a handful of families, will welcome new Catholics into the Church. Juneau Diocese will proudly add seven new members at Easter.

These numbers are based on participation in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, a part of the RCIA process usually conducted at the beginning of Lent. They do not include infant baptisms, which in 2010 totaled 857,410 according to the Official Catholic Directory (OCD). For 2010, OCD reported that there were 43,279 adult baptisms in the United States and 75,724 people received into full communion.

Cheryl Sickle, a staff member in the Office of Worship and Sacraments in Wheeling-Charleston, summarized the feelings of catechumens and candidates, and of the communities welcoming them, as the life-changing moment approaches.

“Each year, some of the most touching moments at the Rite of Election include the emotions expressed. We see faces full of joy as catechumens and candidates alike realize the bigger picture of their decision to join the Church. We see the smiles of proud grandparents as their young grandchildren painstakingly sign the Book of the Elect, and the overwhelming emotions of wives or husbands, brought to tears, whose spouses are converting to the Roman Catholic faith after years of marriage. We see physically challenged people with a look of determination as they slowly and resolutely process forward, and the bond of belonging on the faces of a family who welcome into their midst and into their faith a newly-adopted son or daughter of a different ethnicity. It is a one-time Rite, but the RCIA formation behind it lasts — and changes — a lifetime.”

Easter Vigil was very rewarding as we had more than 2,000 in our Diocese convert to the Catholic Faith. We had 9 Baptisms and 21 Confirmations in our Parish. The RCIA program continues to bear good fruit teaching and leading people to the Lord.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why it is good...

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A few months ago, a Facebook friend acted like a troll. He came over to my page to insult both me and my Christianity. I allowed it to stand and didn't react with the vitriol I was tempted to, much to the amusement of my friends out in the real world. "Better you than me," one said. I was tempted to drop him, of course, but I won't do that except in extreme cases (and haven't yet). I'd rather interact. I'm probably the only person of faith this person actually engages with, so I tolerate the periodic pettiness because, honestly, aren't we all petty on occasion? From all I can tell, he surrounds himself with people who agree with him and so his world seems pretty narrow. Though I know I drive him crazy, it seems he's willing to put up with me, too. I can't begin to imagine why. I'm his "diversity" maybe, so I'll stick it out. We're tolerating each other.

Another friend and I disagree radically on several fundamentals. We have a nodding recognition that we'll probably never come to common ground on those few things, so we simply don't discuss them. I post my pro and anti pages and she politely does not comment. She posts her polar opposite pro and anti pages and I politely do not comment. I read a few of hers and think, "How sad this all is." She very likely does the same. We peacefully coexist until we come across common ground, then boy howdy can we go to town on each other's comments. We are waiting for those moments when we agree so that we can pick each others' brains and spur each other on. I enjoy those times because I really and truly love the way she thinks. I forgive her as she forgives me, for being different. I just love that about her, almost as much as I love her.

My sister taught me this skill, by the way, in case you think I am some sort of saintly, tolerant woman. I'm not. I'm a pain in most every one's behind really (most especially my own). My sister can attest to what an obnoxious, opinionated person I am naturally. She bore the brunt of my bluntness for years with a patience I can only admire. I have studied her. I have watched her exist, relatively peacefully, in a world that disagrees with nearly every cherished belief she holds. I have seen her temper flare up in her eyes, only to be expressed by a raising of the eyebrows and a slight cooling of her natural warmth. I have always wanted that.

Good, God! WHY?!
With all that in mind, I will answer on Easter this accusation of a question on why Christians hold up the Cross as a cherished symbol. "It's like Jews worshiping Auschwitz!" that certain somebody accused, offending me and two wide swaths of humanity in the same careless analogy. In swallowing my anger, I had my answer, "Because it gives me the strength to bear you." The cross means that suffering has a higher purpose. You suffering with me and me suffering with you is a good thing. I'd give up my life for that, for you, in a minute. At least I hope I would, if called to. In the meantime I'll be giving up my anger instead. It's practice. We Catholics call it "dying to self." It's a type of martyrdom that isn't much admired in the world, but some of the most admirable people I know practice it.

I'm working on it. In the meantime, God Himself thought we were worth dying for and I agree, even if I'm only called to "die to self" for you.

So there.

*BEST OF DTB #80* Easter is still a uniquely Catholic holiday...and it it is getting more so.

Easter (which takes it's name from it's Eastern origin, not from some goddess as some claim) is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. it is a conspicuously Catholic holiday both in origin and celebration.

The whole of the Easter story begins with the Last supper and the institution of the Eucharist;

Luke 22

14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it * until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
After this, we are drawn through the terrible passion of Our Lord, during which He issues His condemnation of Jerusalem, the harlot of babylon;

Luke 23
26* And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. p 28* But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem", do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
Revelation 6 15* Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us" and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?"
In the climax of the passion, Our Lord gives us His Mother as Our Mother. As it turns out, this is the defining sign of the true believers of Jesus Christ.

John 19 25* So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26* When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. Revelation 12 17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on * the sand of the sea.
Then comes the Resurrection. A real event that only the Catholic Church has proof of. Think about that. Outside of the Scriptures, a non-Catholic can provide no evidence of the Resurrection. The Shroud of Turin, on the other hand, provides the definitive proof that the Resurrection is a historical fact.

Finally, what points back to these miracles are the miracles that happen now, in the Catholic Church. Eucharistic miracles, public miracles....

However, at the end of the day, what verifies the Catholic Church most is that it celebrates and enjoins itself to the whole passion mystery.

Rather than dismissing it with a prayer.

More and more, other churches are denying the reality of the Resurrection or, at a minimum, downplaying it.

Growing in protestantism is a denial of Christ's fulfillment of the Sabbath and Sunday as the Lord's day.

Lost in so many of them is that the Cross is not sufficient until we join it with our own sufferings, through the ministry of the Church.

Colossians 1
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26* the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.
The Catholic seal is all over Easter.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Catholic Defender takes a look at the Anti-Catholics

I have to say that on YouTube the Anti-Catholics are really buzzing around making a lot of noise.

It kind of reminds me of an old video I had seen some years ago.

I just found this video so I thought I would share this with you.

Next time you have an Anti-Catholic coming after you, please think of the following:

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #79* "..... There will be an answer....Let it be"

In the Bible, and history, there are many instances where God speaks through the unlikeliest of people. I believe I experienced one of those myself.

In those moments, the person writing does not even understand the magnitude of what they are writing, for they are not writing, but God is writing through them.

When King David wrote those haunting and
prophetic words in the 22nd Psalm, did he even comprehend who it was whose voice he was echoing through time and space?

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day,
but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
3 Yet thou art holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted,
and thou didst deliver them.
5 To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men,
and despised by the people.
7* All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me,
they wag their heads;
8 "He committed his cause to the LORD;
let him deliver him, let him rescue him,
for he delights in him!"
9 Yet thou art he who took me from the womb;
thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.
10 Upon thee was I cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax,
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
thou dost lay me in the dust of death.

Mark 15:34
And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God,
my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Why did Jesus cry out these words? Why did He feel abandoned by the Father?

This is one of those most wonderful paradoxes of our precious Christian faith. At that moment you feel the most abandoned, the most lost, the most alone, the most despaired of hope and consolation, it is then that you are the closest to Jesus.

Those Christians who suffered the most, most closely imitated and united with, His sufferings and filled up the covenant- that which is lacking in His afflictions.

Colossians 1
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

To rejoice in our sufferings, for someone else's sake, sounds like foolishness. However, it is only foolish to the fools. Jesus suffered for our sake and it is the greatest privilege possible to join him at Calvary, even if only in a small way. In the midst of our deepest despair, our most unbearable loneliness, our most piercing and penetrating pain, our most violent storm, hangs the despairing, abandoned and suffering Jesus, united in all our agony.

Many Christian pastors, despite their best intentions, cannot answer this one question;

Why do Christians suffer?

The answer? Because that is where you find Jesus. There is but one way to Jesus and that is the Via Delarossa.... the way of the cross.

In accepting the sufferings that come our way, we draw closer to God by emptying our souls to Him, gaining empathy for the lost, forsaken and downtrodden and gaining a greater appreciation for what He did for us.

If anyone thinks that he can get to heaven by avoiding the way of the cross, he must think again.

Mark 8:34-38
And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

We must follow Jesus on the way of the cross and, in following Him, we will meet His Mother, as He did. Who knew His sufferings more than her? What an ocean of suffering overtook her seeing Her Divine Son tortured, murdered, mocked, abandoned....

When it comes to Our Lady, protestants miss the forest for the trees. Jesus didn't merely suffer for us, He suffers with us and we with Him. Never was this sublime mystery more present than with His Blessed Mother who Simeon foretold would suffer the sword of agony in Her own soul (Luke 2:33-35).

Mary was the perfect example of Christ-like faith and her suffering had to have been unbearable but, unlike 11 of the 12 apostles, She never abandoned her Son. No one knew Christ's sufferings better than His Mother because She joined Him in His passion as we are called to do as well.

Jesus gave us Her Mother in John 19:26 and that we belong to Her is the surest sign that we belong to Him.

In one the darkest days of my life, in 2007, leveled by catastrophes, bereft of hope, I cried out to God "Why!? Why!? Why!?". Why did my family have to be victimized by these horrible events? My family had suffered events that destroyed my life, eviscerated my hope, left me with no reason to live.

In other words.....

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

The simple, stunning, but unmistakable answer came from the radio.....

"There will be an answer....Let it be"

That song was almost 40 years old. What are the odds it would be on at that time?

Do I believe Paul McCartney is a prophet? I do not. Do I believe that song was inspired by God? I do. And I do believe that my Blessed Mother, through that song, was speaking to me..... yes.....words of wisdom.

"My child" I could almost hear her say. "I know you are in agony, I know you don't understand" Her calming voice to my soul, "but" She continues "There will be an answer..... Let it Be"

I began sobbing, right there behind the wheel, right there on Route 287 eastbound. Just like a baby.

Shortly after that, I listened again to the song I'd known pretty much all my life in a whole new way...

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me,

speaking words of wisdom; "Let it Be"

And in my hour of darkness, She is standing right in front of me,

speaking words of wisdom; "Let it Be"

Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be

Whisper words of wisdom, "Let it be"

And when the broken hearted people, living in the world, agree,

There will be an answer, Let it Be.

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, Let it Be

Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be

Yea, There will be an answer, "Let it be"

Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be

Whisper words of wisdom, "Let it be"

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me,

Shine on until tomorrow, Let it Be

I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me.

speaking words of wisdom; "Let it Be"

Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be

Yea, There will be an answer, "Let it be"

Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be

Whisper words of wisdom, "Let it be"

There is not doubt in my mind that this song was inspired by God even though I don't think even Paul McCartney, the writer ever realized it. Our Lady does come to us in times of trouble and She is standing right in front of us in that hour of darkness. Finally, She does tell us that we may have to endure a season of suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19) that we do not understand. yet, if we do, we must not despair of God's love or feel forsaken. True, we may not understand why God allows even horrific sufferings in the lives of some. However, in the midst of your agony, hold fast to that promise, it will be what makes you whole again.

There will be an answer. Let it Be.

In August of 2009, I was blessed to be at this concert. I cried when he did this song.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #78* The Catholic Defender: The Stations Of The Cross

One of my all time favorite devotions is the Stations of the Cross.

This devotion has played an important part in my spiritual formation.

I love many of the traditions built around this great devotion.

I remember reading how the Blackfoot Indians would make a 7 mile trek on their Reservation in full colorful ancestral clothing bringing the culture into it.

The oldest to the youngest would carry crosses to each of the 14 Stations.

I know that Poland has had similar cultural enrichment to the Stations.

Every time I go into a Catholic Church, the Stations of the Cross are always something I always look for.

Eureka Springs Arkansas has a very beautiful example that is built outdoors.

Recently, Fort Hood Catholic Community conducted the Stations of the Cross in Belton Texas at the Cedarbrake Renewal Center where we went on a 1 mile trek.

It was a great experience that was profound for me.

There were retired Soldiers who walked the Stations some of which where wounded in action having to walk with supports.

Seeing that showed me something of the human spirit to do something for God.

Their example and testimony through this effort to me was very powerful.

The History of the Stations of the Cross goes all the way back to Christ as his followers would retrace the Lord's steps to Calvary.

During the Middle Ages, because of the Islamic take over of the holy Land, pilgrimages became very dangerous to the Christians.

As a result, St. Francis of Assisi developed a means by setting up a model for the Stations of the Cross at the local Church. By 1731, Pope Clement XII fixed the number to 14 Stations and promoted the devotion to all Churches in Christendom.

The Stations of the Cross can be prayed anytime, but it is mostly seen during the Season of Lent as people are following more closely the Passion of the Lord.

I have kind of started my own devotion using the Stations of the Cross. The past 4 weeks I have been praying the Stations of the Cross at the Killeen Texas Abortion clinic.

It began simple by joining some others friends out on the sidewalk standing up for the life of the unborn child.

Then this "Walk of Jericho" idea that has been spreading, where people will walk 7 times around the Abortion Clinics spiritually bringing down the walls of "Jericho".

Our Abortion Clinic is only available on two fronts surrounding a large complex of several other businesses.

We do have a Pro-life center right next door to the Abortion Mill. Since I can't go around the abortion mill, I can still cover two flanks so I travel this 14 times as if to spiritually go all away around the area.

This is how the Stations became an opportunity for me. I can stop and pray at every entrance of the location. I carry a cross that is 8 feet tall with a 6 foot bar forming a fairly formidable cross that you can see a long ways.

I wrote "Stop Abortion" on the cross beam making it clear why I am carrying it. It has taken me so far about 4 1/2 hours to complete this making it very interesting.

I will have thousands see me carrying the cross and I will pause at the strategic places where the most people will see me. I get a lot of thumbs up, horns honking in support, people will get out of their vehicles to pray for me and show support.

Yesterday, a lady stopped and approached me as I stood there with the cross and she thanked me for what I was doing. She told me her Daughter had two Abortions and she was torn up about it. Her Daughter had recently tried to have a baby but lost it through a miscarriage. She felt that God was punishing her for the abortions. I encouraged her to let her Daughter know that God does love her, and He will forgive her if she asks for it.

I also am there as a sign to those going there for abortions. Sometimes we get someone who sees us and changes their mind, other times, they will go into the pr0-life clinic thinking it is the Abortion mill.

During the course of this year, we saved 101 babies from would be Mothers who were Abortion minded.

The Stations of the Cross for me has become an important weapon as is the rosary in this battle against abortion. At each entrance I pray, "We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. Because by your holy Cross You have redeemed the world".

At the major entrances, I would stand with the cross and pray and sing each of the prayers, those prescribed for the leader, for all, the concluding prayer, then a song for each Station.
The Stations of the Cross are as follows:

1. Jesus is condemned to death

2. Jesus carries his Cross

3. Jesus falls the first time

4. Jesus meets his afflicted mother

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his Cross

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

7. Jesus falls the second time

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

9. Jesus falls a third time

10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes

11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

12. Jesus dies on the Cross

13. The body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Regardless of the circumstance where, why, when we pray the Stations of the Cross, anytime we follow the footsteps of our Lord's Passion, we become identified with our Lord and we grow closer to Jesus. May the Lord bless us and keep us close to himself as we grow closer to him at the foot of the Cross.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Catholic Defender Salutes A Young Girl

This is an excellent small video of a younglittle girl. Please take the time to watch this video and the message she offers. This should be seen around the world. "I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, Yes, even on my servants and handmaids".

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Monday, April 11, 2011

* BEST OF DTB #77* The Catholic Defender: 9 Identifiers of the SDA

I recently wrote an article concerning some of the issues of the Seventh Day Adventist and some of their subsidiaries. Due to the great response of this article, I wanted to share some more that I feel should be looked at. The SDA have signaled 9 identifiers they claim point to the Catholic Faith as the "Whore of Babylon". Lets take a look at these identifiers and show some objectivity.

The SDA first identifier: The Catholic Church began in 538 A.D. marking the beginning of the 1260 year reign prophesied by Daniel the Prophet. To give them their 1260 years, they attach the year 1798. The SDA claim that the Catholic Church rose taking out three kingdoms uprooting the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals.

Response: The SDA is using the 538 date because they want you to believe this was the beginning of Papal authority. Pope Vigilius (537-555) was the first of the so-called Byzantine Popes because the Papacy between 537 -752 were approved by the Roman Emperor. These Popes were duly elevated according to canon law, but the Roman Emperor basically gave his stamp of approval to the appointment. This in no way made the Emperor and the Pope in unison with humble recognition. They feuded over issues. The 1798 date is connected to the "Babylonian Captivity" when Napoleon hijacked the Papacy and took the Pope to France. There were fanatical Arians who rejected the Divinity of Jesus and the teaching on the Trinity. They were the "Vandal Kingdom" who captured Rome and pillaged the city in 455 A.D. Belisarius, a Byzantine General who served under the Roman Emperor Justinian, finally over threw this Vandal Kingdom. It was not the power of the Pope or the Church that won the day, it was the civil authority. The defeat of the Barbarians were an answer to prayer as the Vandals and their partners were cruel and ruthless. Pope Vigilius was the 58th successor of St. Peter. The Catholic Faith was founded by Jesus Christ.

The SDA second identifier: "It would have a man at its head who speaks for it".

Response: So do most of the organizations and nations on the face of the earth. I think most people might assume the anti-Christ might be a male, but this hardly proves that this is the Catholic Faith. I think Catholic women are treated better than many women that belong to several of the Protestant groups.

The SDA third identifier: "It would pluck up or uproot three kingdoms".

Response: The three kingdoms the SDA claim the Catholic Church uprooted were the Vandals, Heruli, and the Ostrogoths. These were warring groups that made war on Rome. They actually ramsacked Rome. The Church went into hiding during this time. They hid the relics of St. Peter and other Saints so they would not be destroyed. The Catholic Church faced martyrdom and persecution from these Barbarians. It was the Civil Government who ultimately defeated and pushed back the Vandals. The SDA want you to believe that it was the Catholic Church who killed hundreds of millions of people when in fact, the Church was forced underground itself. General Belisarius was a liberator of the people of Rome against these Barbarians.

The SDA fourth identifier: "It would be diverse or different from the other kingdoms".

Response: The SDA want to describe the Vatican as "diverse" because our Kingdom really is not of this world. The Vatican truly would be Jesus royal embassy and the earth it's mission field. This should not be confused with the deception of the Anti-Christ and his world conquest. The Anti-Christ will appear to be aman of peace; however, his kingdom will be exposed through New Age teaching. Renouncing the 10 Commandments will be a sign to watch. The rejection of traditional values, traditional families. The Whore of Babylon will result of the apostasy of those who abandon the Catholic Faith. In the Old Testament, God accused Israel of adultry when His people worshiped false gods.

The SDA 5th identifier: "It would emerge from the fourth kingdom of the iron-the Pagan Roman Empire".

Response: This is why the SDA connect the Papacy with the Roman Emperor. They want you to think that Pope Benedict would be a successor to the Emperor Nero. Some of them have said that Simon the Sorcorer was the first Pope, rejecting St. Peter. This is also why they bitterly challenge that St. Peter was never in Rome. A side note is that the SDA have no problem recognizing Rome as "Babylon" yet, when St. Peter reveals that he was in "Babylon" (1 Peter 5:13), the SDA response is that had to be Iraq? It is interesting that they would give credit to Constantine in finding the Catholic Church but find a way to attribute Pope Vigilius as the first Pope. Constantine was about 2 centuries earlier. The SDA refered to Constantine as "Pontifex Maximus" trying to make him a Pope. The current Pope at this time was St. Sylvester I. It was through Constantine that the Catholic Church was given freedon through the "Edict of Milan". This kingdom is yet to come. Some believe that the European Union might be this last "Revised Roman Empire", this remains to be seen.

The SDA sixth point: "God's people would be given into his hand for a time and times and the dividing of time".

This is the SDA claim that the Catholic faith began in 538 A.D. and died in 1798 when Napoleon of France hijacked the Pope to France. They are converting the 1260 days of Daniels prophecy to 1260 years. 1798 would be the death of the Papacy. The Papacy has not died. The early SDA developed an answer to 1260 days from using a day per year ratio. Satan is good about developing ideas that will take people away from the truth. Jesus established his Church in 33 A.D. You can't point to 312 A.D. or 538 A.D. to fit in a time that the Catholic Church begins. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, that he would remain with it until the end of the age, that the Holy Spirit would be given to the Church to keep it straight to Jesus teachings. As far as the time, "forty-two months: The duration of the vicious persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV (Dn 7:25; 12:7); this persecution of three and a half years (half of seven, counted as 1260 days in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 which becomes the prototype of periods of trial for God's people. The SDA and anyone else can point out 1260 years throughout Catholic history as we have about 2,000 years of history.

The SDA seventh point: "The rule of the papacy began in 538 A.D."

See how much the SDA are stressing this point. Yet in their own history since 1863, this has shifted three different times. At one time they thought the Church began in 312. They couldn't grasp anything to reach 1260 years so they counted backwards 1260 years and from there, they recognize PopleVigilius as the first Pope. Unfortunately for the SSA, Pope Vigilius was the 59th successor to Peter. This is why the SDA must refute St. Peter in Rome and that he was commissioned by Christ to be the first Pope. In 755 A.D. the Popes were given lands called Papal States that measured about the size of new Hampshire. In 1860 these Papal States became subject to Victor Emmanuel II, King of Italy. Then an independent Papal State was created in 1929 called "Vatican City". If you wanted to use a date that the Pope was given land, this was 755, not 538! The Papal rule continues this very day. A spiritual rule that governs more than a billion people. One out of six living persons today profess the faith of the Apostles. From the Vandal to Napolean, those who were cruel towards Christians, who used barbaric tactics towards the Church the SDA would say the Church surpressed. Napoleon wasn't the first Emperor who tried to steal God's authority by force. Emperors and Rulers tried to control or influence the Papacy to further their own ambitions. In some cases, they appointed anti-popes to support them. An anti-pope is a man who has been improperly elected as Pope. He sets himself up in opposition to the true Pope who has been regularly chosen in accordance with Canon Law. The first anti-Pope was Hippolytus in 217 A.D. The last anti-Pope was Felix V from 1440-1449. In all there have been 27 anti-Popes none of which are listed in the history of the Popes. Hippolytus would be recieved back into the Faith with his repentance.

The SDA eight point: "The Papacy further undermines Jesus by setting up a system of confession to an earthly priest, thus bypassing Jesus".

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a stumbling block to most Non-Catholics. St. Paul writes, "We have the Ministry of Reconciliation". This is the heart of the New Covenant that the Church preaches repentance throughout the whole world. When we go to Confession, we do so in obedience to the will of jesus. St. John states, "On the evening of that first day of the week (Sunday), even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews... Jesus came and stood before them, Peace be with you, He said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord the Disciples rejoiced. Peace be with you, he said again. As the Father has sent me so I send you. Then he breathed on them and said. Recieve the Holy Spirit, if you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven, if you hold them bound, they are held bound". Through this great Sacrament, Jesus gives his Apostles the Ministry of Reconciliation. This authority should not be confused with the moral obligation to forgive "seventy times seven". St. James writes 5:13, "Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the priest of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven". St. James further states, "Therefore, confess Your Sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed". In this great Sacrament, Jesus chooses to forgive in the action of his ministers. This is an authority commanded by Christ! It's jesus who forgives in the action (obedience) of his ministers. The question is, Do you believe in Jesus, and does he have the power to forgive sins? Yes he does! Can he use his Church, yes he Can! He has commanded it.

The SDA have issues with the title "Father", they have issues with the Commandments and statues, but their biggest problem is the Sabbath. Changing the feast days and the laws

Jesus broke bread on Sunday, that first Easter, and the Church has been doing it ever since. We are living in the New Covenant and Christ established the Church to guide us until the Lord returns. We are not left without the presence of the Lord or the Holy Spirit. St. Lukes writes that the Church "gathered on the first day of the week when we gathered for the breaking of bread". This was the day of the early Church long before Constantine. It's interesting that the Sabbath is refered to 8 times in the book of Acts and it was related to reaching out to the Jews. It wasn't a call to guide the Gentiles into the Synagogue. In fact the Gentiles were not permitted to go into the Synagogue as they were "unclean".
If I thought about it, I could creat 9 identifiers that could point to the SDA as the anti-Christ. This is how people become confused with what the truth is. The Catholic Faith is the only sure foundation who does have Jesus Christ as the founder. There can be no greater foundation. I couldn't develop 1260 years for them since they have been around for about 148 years. Maybe I can use the 1260 days to indicate the fact that the SDA believed that Jesus is the incarnation of St. Michael the Archangel. The SDa are who the Jehovah's Witnesses took this belief from!

Compare Isaiah 1:13-14 "Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me. New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear. Your moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the Load".

With Colossians 2:16-17, "Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath. These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ".
Jesus broke bread on Easter Sunday, the Church has continued this ever since.
The SDA continues some of the food restrictions of the Old Testament as well. That to is adressed in this passage. Don't worry about the food and drink!

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2:30 AM, Monday morning

When you are up at 2:30 in the morning, with the low, dull sound of the television in the background, with the stress of a new week stalking you and keeping you awake, is there anywhere to hide?

Jesus said 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. * 22* As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Matthew 13)

2:30 in the morning is a hard time to be a Christian. This is when every mistake you ever made, every sin you ever committed and every pain you ever caused due to your blindness comes home and troubles your soul. Longing for a do-over that will never come, you prepare to face the day, with no one to lean on.

No one except the only one you can really lean on........

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Friday, April 8, 2011

The Catholic Defender : The Gate Of Your Heart

"Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass".

The Old Testament Prophecy comes to life every year as the Catholic Church commemorates Holy Week beginning with the Lord's triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11 States, "When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, The master has need of them. Then he will send them at once. This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Say to the daughter Zion, behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying:

Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.

And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, who is this? And the crowds replied, This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee".

As we grow in our knowledge and wisdom of our Faith, may we allow the King of Kings to enter into the gates of our hearts.

The one who stands knocking says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his Throne " (Revelation 3:20-21).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #75* The Catholic Defender Meets Abby Johnson

Recently, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood leader, published a book called "Unplanned".

This is basically her story and how she found her new faith.

This upcoming Easter Vigil, the one time head of the largest Planned Parenthood's Abortion Mill, will be received into the Catholic Church.

Abby Johnson gave her talk this past week here in Texas just right outside of the Fort Hood Area.

There was a large crowd there to hear her speak. Mrs. Johnson was very inspiring as she challenged us to pick up the battle against Abortion.

She lamented that few Pastors were speaking out against abortion from the pulpit. She gave the testimony how she grew up in a "pro-life" family, but abortion and the evil of it were seldom mentioned. She never heard it from the pulpit giving any kind of direction.

Mrs. Johnson reported that 78% of those getting abortions come from "Christians".

The need today is for people of good will to become more involved in the battle to save lives. The Pulpit should be a place where life should be preached. She did have some good information to report.

In the course of this past year there were 9 Abortion clinics closed down.

Here in Killeen Texas, there were 101 babies saved when the Mother who had planned to have an abortion changed their minds.

The Pro-life center which sits next door to the Abortion Mill reached out to 4300 women who were abortion minded.

It is interesting to note that while in the Abortion Mill they cannot refer to the child as a "baby".

The Abortion Mill places a value on the child. It is about $450 dollars.

Then it's cut down and gone. Coming soon to 247 cities across America, 40 Days of Life will renew it's plan to be out on the front lines to be a sign for life.

Mrs. Abby Johnson will be in Missouri next and Dr. Gregory Thompson of deeptertruth will be there to greet her.

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