Sunday, March 31, 2013

*BEST OF DTB #261* The Catholic Defender: The SSG Cardenas Story

It was spring/summer of 2006, I was relatively new to my unit as the Medical Platoon Sergeant. At this time I received a new Soldier, PVT Cardenas, a very young 17 year old new recruit.

I placed him in support of B Company, 2-5 CAV. with the B Company line medics.

PVT Cardenas would be given the responsibility of taking care of his Platoon of Cavalry Soldiers.

This is a very important role to keep your Soldiers medically qualified to deploy at any given time. This includes insuring that their shots are all up to date, recorded in the MEPROS, and medical records.

They have to train their Combat Life Savers ensuring that they are within standards, they must remain proficient in their medical skills.

They are the subject matter experts the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant depends upon. It is a great responsibility for anyone to assume.

We deployed to Iraq in October 2006 and PVT Cardenas was the youngest Soldier I took to Iraq.

This was a 15 month deployment as we would not return to the United States until after the middle of January, 2008.

During this time, PVT Cardenas would earn his promotion to SPC, E-4, as he did very well under a hostile environment.

 He served at a very small JSS (Joint Security Station) that our Battalion strengthened and fortified.

There was a lot of enemy contact and all my Medics performed brilliantly. They saved a lot of lives as did all my Medics.

When the opportunity arose, I encouraged my Soldiers to depend on God, to trust in Him to help them, along with their training. It is important to hold firmly your faith in such places.

PVT Cardenas was no exception, he was raised Protestant, and I knew his wife and family were culturally Catholic.

In 2009, our unit would redeploy back to Iraq for another 12 months and this time, SPC Cardenas was dedicated in studying the Catholic Faith.

We would get together when the opportunity was there, we were both at JSS Sader City, which was a very dangerous place to be.

 I had medics at JSS UR, FORD, Comanche, War Eagle, and other places in our operations of theater.

The Platoons would constantly be out on missions so it was difficult for much organization there. We did the best that we could. I would bring SPC Cardenas up for promotion to Sergeant and so he went before the Board and did excellent getting a high score.

Upon returning from this deployment, SPC P Cardenas would PCS out of the Unit and transfer out to another Station in San Antonio Texas.

I would go to the Fort Hood Medical Hospital and finish out my 26 year career there.

Throughout this time, I always encouraged him to excel in his military career as I did with all my Soldiers, but most importantly, I encouraged him to continue his journey to the Catholic Faith.

This past year, I was honored to Sponsor SSG Cardenas into the Catholic Faith this past Easter Vigil, March 30, 2013 (San Antonio Texas).

He was able to share with me his success being recognized as NCO of the Year at his Unit/Station.

What an honor this is and another one I am most proud of. Like a Father, I have had one Soldier recognized nationally as Soldier of the Year by the USO, celebrated in Washington D.C. and another one earning the "Daisey Award" which is rare for a lower enlisted to earn.

SSG Cardenas is certainly in that company of great Soldiers I have had the opportunity to lead and serve with.

Not only did SSG Cardenas receive the Sacramental Grand Slam, Baptism. Confirmation, and God be praised, Holy Communion, his wife was confirmed along with him! What a great blessing for the Cardenas family and what an honor for me to Sponsor SSG Cardenas.

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*BEST OF DTB #260* The Catholic Defender: The Cup Of Salvation

The Bible (Psalms 116:12) asked the very most important question, "How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me?"

The answer might surprise you, but how many of us over look the answer?

Is it that all we need do is make a decision to make amends?

Do we simply need to say a "sinner's prayer"?

Do we simply find a "bible" church? What is the answer coming from the Bible?

"The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD."

"The cup of salvation will I take up..." This is very important. St Paul refers to this "cup of salvation" as the "cup of blessing", which was the third cup in the Jewish Passover meal.

It has now become the "cup of salvation" in the new and everlasting Covenant.

Consider James 5:19-20, "My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." 

This Prodigal Son will receive the "cup of salvation" once again after being restored to the fullness of truth. Consider Psalms 23:5-6, "You set the table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." There is a connection between the table of the Lord and the cup of salvation.

The Lord gives the best of himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity, so we can truly receive the "oil of gladness".

Easter Vigil is a time of conversion, many are accepting the Lord as they come forward to receive the anointing of oil and the cup of salvation. The cup is very important during the passover meal. There were four cups used at different times during the passover. They represented the following:

1 The first cup of wine is called the cup of sanctification. It is to commemorate the promise: “I will bring you out.”

2 The second cup is called the cup of plagues – the plagues that came upon Egypt – and it relates to the second promise: “I will free you from being slaves.”

3 The third cup is called the cup of redemption, where God says: “I will redeem you.”

4 The fourth cup is called the cup of completion, where God says: “I will take you as my own people.”

Notice the third cup, "cup of redemption", that this would be the main representation of Christ who is the redeemer of mankind, that is why St. Paul refers to this cup as the "cup of blessing".  

It is this cup that is central to the Mass and our cup of salvation.

By receiving this cup, we renew the Covenant with the Lord and truly, our cup overflows.

Also notice the 4th cup, during the Last Supper, remember that Jesus did not offer the traditional 4th cup, but he saved it until the cross.

This is why the Mass is known as the "Sacrifice of the Mass", because the Last Supper is tied into the Passion of Jesus and our redemption..

The cup of completion is taken literally by Jesus, "After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said 'I thirst.' There was a vessel filled with common wine.  So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.  When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, 'It is finished.' And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit." (John 19:28-30)

The cup of salvation is for those who have found their salvation.  For those who have picked up their cross and follows Jesus.  For those who cry out to the Lord for mercy, the Lord hears the cry of the poor.

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He is risen!

A wise man once said that there is one thing that separates Jesus Christ from all the other great leaders, messiahs and prophets of the past- the tomb.

All of their tombs are full. His is not.

The Resurrection is the historical fact that gives all life meaning. Without the Resurrection, the evil win, death and suffering and tragedy are the final answer.
I read just this morning of a child who has a recurrence of cancer. How to make sense of such a tragedy? Answer: The Resurrection. Every hope of even the most desperate situation goes beyond our ability, through the grace of God to overcome misfortune and conquer calamity. The hope of the Resurrection surpasses even this hope in that even if death and misfortune conquer us (and at some point they will), death and misfortune are not the final answer.

Oh death, where is your victory? Where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Today, Easter Sunday would have been my parents' 62nd wedding anniversary. My father died on February 25th. I can still celebrate today because I know that Christ is Risen and because I know that Christ is Risen, I know that my father is too.

A blessed and happy Easter to all!

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Catholic Defender: Roll Away The Stone

One of my favorite Easter songs of all time was written by Tom Conry, a noted Catholic artist and writer.

I had served as a Eucharistic Minister in the absence of a Catholic Priest for my Military Units for many years. For me, this was always a great blessing.

I would be able to conduct a Catholic lay service and provide consecrated hosts for the Catholic population.

I remember one Easter, while deployed to JRTC, a 30 day rotation to Fort Polk Louisiana, the Chaplain's Assistant and I worked on putting this song (Roll Away The Stone) together for our Easter time service.

This was a great joy as the Chaplain's Assistant was a Protestant who came to love this song. Music can tame the most savage beast (lol). We had a great time and the Soldiers really liked what we did.

During this time we worked on making the shell of a lay Catholic Liturgy of the word service into a nice presentation with music.

I have been asked why I don't seek the Deaconate, I am interested but this must be a calling of the Lord and he would have to open the door. To this point, I just have not been given such a call.

I am very surprized that this song is not that well known, not even among Catholic Choir directors and planners? Here are the lyrics to the song:

Roll Away The Stone

They have been saying all our plans are empty.
They have been saying "Where is their God now?"
Roll away the stone see the Glory of God. Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one will remember.
They have been saying Power rules the world.
Roll away the stone see the Glory of God. Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one hears the singing.
They have been saying all our strength is gone.
Roll away the stone see the Glory of God. Roll away the stone.

They have been saying "All of us are dying."
They have been saying "All of us are dead."
Roll away the stone see the Glory of God. Roll away the stone.

Jesus has won the battle as he did rise from the dead on the third day. When I was young, my Mother sent me to a Catholic grade school (St. John La Lande) in Blue Springs Missouri, this would be one of the great sacrifices my Mother did for me. The Sisters taught us music and one of my favorite Easter songs ( The strife is o'er, the battle done) has always stuck with me:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o'er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven's high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death's dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.

We are the Easter People, we are the people of the Lamb who was slain and rose from the dead. The challenge today is helping people to "roll away the stone" from their hearts so they can see the glory of God. The Lord told Jeremiah, "I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33). The Lord calls us to full participation through prayer, witness, example, and if necessary, words. Everything must be built upon with love.

The Lord God says through the Prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts" (Ezekiel 36:26).

This is the mission of the Church, to set free the captives through the Lord's Sacraments. There are many people out there who are crippled and disfigured due to sin, due to injustice, due to what has happened to them. Some of them are part of our own family.

The sword of truth can pierce the hearts of stone, but love must be our foundation. Love for the Lord and his people. I believe that the Lord can change the conditions of a persons heart. What do you do if you have a loved one who is living in the bondage of sin? Sometimes it can seem hopeless, remember, we are to "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Remember St. Monica? She prayed for her family for 30 years, we are not to lose heart, God is in control. In war, I was able to help soothe the grieving of Mothers for their sons death simply by sharing the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. It gave great consolation. We can pray for our loved ones who have built crust around their hearts of stone. The Lord can set them free, create in me a clean heart oh God, that I too can "roll away the stone".

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Friday, March 29, 2013

An open letter to my three adult children

Dear Kids,
     It might seem gratuitously forward for me to post this publicly, in such an open way, but I am compelled to do so. I am almost 50 years old and I don't know how many tomorrow's I have left. Maybe I will live 30 years more. Maybe I will live 30 minutes more. No one knows.

     I do not want to leave this world without emptying my heart and soul before God and the world, telling every one what I feel for you and what I desire for you and from you. I am more than willing to bear the humiliation that will surely come from wearing my heart so vividly on my sleeve.

     I am hoping against hope that these words will find you and that they will break through. I cannot convert you. I cannot make you do what is right. Only you can do that, by cooperating with the Holy Spirit. I can only tell you the truth, over and over, with love. It does not matter how much you revile me for it, I will not stop. I will not give up on you, ever.

     Today is Good Friday and somewhere, deep inside of you, you know what that means. I ask that you just take a little time today to think about what your Savior did for you. You can be angry at your mother and I if you must. You can feel that we were not able to give you what you deserved and, frankly, we can't really argue the point. That is not the case with your Savior. If He never bestowed another blessing upon you in this life, He has already given you far more than you could ever hope to repay.

     Yes, there is much suffering in your past and yes, your parents- us- must take the blame for some of it. Though there is not a single day when we don't feel the pain of regret and loss, we are not so naive to expect that your forgiveness will be quickly completed and without much work. Yet, you must do the work. You cannot continue to carry bitterness and anger in your hearts, it will destroy you. The work of the Cross ensured that any suffering- even suffering as great as yours- need not be in vain. I need you to trust me on this. Your suffering was a tremendous cost. I am not here to downplay it. Yet, whenever you are tempted to see God as indifferent in His holy temple to what you endured, know the pain we have endured for what happened to you and then look at the cross.

     Now I ask you to search the deep recesses of your heart and soul and ask yourself if an indifferent God could have done that. Remember His words to Peter that, at any moment, He could have called upon 12 legions of Angels to rescue Him. He did not. We all struggle with why Jesus did not save you from your sufferings while you were in the midst of them but we must also see, in Him, one who would not save Himself either. We may not understand Jesus' way but we cannot help but be staggered by it either. He, who was of such great love that He desires the salvation of all and even when we (myself included) do the most despicable things that cause those we love (and those we should love) to suffer, He does not, at once, destroy us but gives us every possible chance to be redeemed. By my sins, I have earned a thousand hells, each one more painful than the last one but Jesus, for reasons I cannot comprehend, has endured my endless ingratitude and seen in me a child worth saving. He sees the same in you and so do I. No, He did not remove the suffering that you bore unwillingly. Instead, He willingly suffered far more than you or I can even comprehend so that He could give value to your hurts and salvation to your souls.

     If I had my wish it would be that I could be your best friend and, yes, it causes me and your mom immeasurable pain when you stand in rebellion and stubbornly refuse to see the right way. The people you number as your friends are not all as much the friends you suppose them to be. The freedom you abuse to stand in rebellion of God will not last forever. At your hour of trial, all that will be left are God and you and those who are able and willing to testify on your behalf.

     You must stop deceiving yourself into believing that that hour will never come or that it is so far off that you do not need to worry about it. Now is the time of salvation. Do not wait until it is too late. At that hour, that you were popular with your friends or successful in your endeavors will not plead for your pardon. You can argue until you are blue in the face about who is on the right side of history but God is not impressed with such arguments. His church is on the right side of history and that is why it stood as empire after empire and heresy after heresy fell. The quickest and surest way possible to make it to hell is to pretend that it doesn't exist and that you are free to do whatever you want, say whatever you want, support what ever you want. Listening to people who tell you that God doesn't exist, heaven doesn't exist, hell doesn't exist and morals don't exist is to listen to fools. Deep down inside, you know better and you must fan those flames back to life.

     You may think that you are loving your gay friends by confirming them in their sin but you are not. Supporting things like gay marriage, abortion and contraception are material cooperation in evil. God created man. Male and Female, He created them. He instituted marriage as a covenant, sacramental relationship for two purposes;
  1. To help each other get to heaven.
  2. To raise children.
     Since homosexuals cannot accomplish either of these goals, through nature, to claim homosexual marriage as valid is to mock God. If you love your homosexual friends, you should, at a minimum, express to them that their choices to succumb to homosexual temptation is sinful and something you cannot personally endorse. At the most, you should assist them in coming out of the gay lifestyle as many have done. By no means, however, should you be affirming and elevating their lifestyle to the level of normal, genuine love. It is not love, it is lust. It is not life affirming, it is selfish and destructive on every human level.

     Saying these things doesn't exactly make me Mr. Popular. I don't care. I have higher aims for you. I don't care if you one day rule this world. I do not care about this world, beyond what is needed to survive it and overcome it. I desire for you that you escape the pollution and slavery of this world into the eternal bliss of the next. Jesus wanted that so much that He was scouraged and nailed to a Cross to provide you the path.

     You have only to take it. I will continue to tirelessly pray and work for that day, not out of judgement, not out of patronage but out of a love you do not yet understand but I hope, someday, you will.

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*BEST OF DTB #259* Friday Quick Takes- Yes, I was there

Driving to work today, it should be no surprise the question ringing through my brain in song....
"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

That this song would be playing in my head on Good Friday morning seemed pretty close to following the predicted script. What I was not prepared for was to hear myself answer the question "Yes, , I was there". I have to admit that the answer shook me to my core- shocked that I said it, shocked further that it is true. No, I have never been to Israel and I was born more than 1900 years after the Crucifixion. Nevertheless, there just isn't any denying it- I was there.

--- 1 ---
I was there in the sin that condemned Him to death. The pride of the pharisees? Yep, that was mine. The sins of the flesh of Mary Magdalene? Mine too.
--- 2 ---
I was there. My name was Barabbas. I was the convicted criminal who was set free, an innocent man to die in my place.
--- 3 ---
I was there in Peter's denial. By my deeds, have I denied Him. Not 3 times or even 3 x 1000 times but 3 x 1000 x 1000 times.
--- 4 ---
I was there. That was me who scourged Jesus unmercifully and spit on Him. Everytime I refused to receive His mercy, every time I reviled my brother, it was Jesus that I reviled.
--- 5 ---
My name was Simon and I grumbled bitterly when they made me help carry His Cross.
--- 6 ---
I was the bad thief who told Him that He can't be God if He doesn't remove my suffering.
--- 7 --- 
I was the centurion, standing in awe. Truly, this was the Son of God.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Catholic Defender looks at Indifferentism

Going back to 1983, I was living in Arkansas not too long before I would join the Military. I would develop an interest with the "Letters to the Editor" portion of the local news paper.

The work I had been doing with the Knights of Columbus was getting a lot of responses, both pro and con, as they gave their opinions.

On one occasion I responded to a debate concerning Christmas.

A lady called in on a local radio program when the announcer wished her a "Merry Christmas". She was not happy about the "season's greetings" and responded back to the announcer that if he wanted to join the Catholic Church in worshiping a "false Christ", he could do so. She said there was nothing to support that the early Christians celebrated Christmas.

This lady was not a supporter of Christmas. I wrote a letter to the editor in response to this lady informing the community that Pope Telephorus, the 8th successor of St. Peter, established the custom of "Midnight Mass". In fact, "Christmas is literally taken from Christ's Mass! Even Santa Claus is taken from the real historical person of St. Nicholas.

This was about the year 125 A.D. and I couldn't help but notice this was but a short 90 years after the Resurrection of the Lord.

The Popular Christmas scene we see often today was something that St. Francis began in the 1200's.

The next evening, I received an angry phone call from an individual who told me he was raised a Catholic.

He proceeded to inform me that he had 12 years of Catholic School. I responded back in defense of the Catholic Faith when he retorted back that "if I wanted to be Catholic I could move elsewhere".

Talk about "cut and run", his hatred blinded his heart towards the Catholic Church. He was a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

Through experiences like this I began to see a bias of hate towards the Catholic Faith and to those who stood up for the Church. I wanted to be an instrument for the Lord, people from all over the local area were coming to me asking questions.

Some came challenging me, others came interested in learning about the Church. I spent countless hours with people as they would invite me to their homes, I would be in the parking lot at a store, work, anywhere that people cared to discuss it.

Inside the Church, people would ask for me to sponsor them for their Baptisms and Confirmations.

That was a high honor for me. I felt like I was a first base coach sending people towards second base where Father would coach from third base, where he would guide them to home plate.

It was at this point that I began to see a new trend within Protestantism that became more and more prevalent.

To these people, they maintained the view that there was no true church. They believed Christ did not establish a church. It was an invisible reality that encompassed people of all denominations, maybe even some "Catholics".

To them, truth was a matter of a personal choice, your own perspective, your own interpretation of the Bible becomes the real truth no matter what church you participate with. To them, differences in Christian teachings does not matter as long as you "know Jesus in a personal relationship".

I saw this in college to a degree, but never to this extent. I was amazed how people would credit the Holy Spirit for their positions and opinions. As a Catholic, I recognize the Holy Spirit's role in the life of a Christian, but I could not bridge the apostolic witness and authority to all these people wanting desperately to know Christ in a personal way.

They spurned dogmas and sacraments because their "leaders" were demonizing the Catholic Church. I would learn that this is a major heresy of our time called the "Heresy of Indifferentism".

This is dangerous for obvious reasons: when any teaching of a doctrine becomes "personally" obnoxious the indifferent follower is inclined to follow the least line of resistance. They lull themselves into a state of self-conviction, and follow after their own conscience.

What they can't see is the very Lordship of Christ being reduced to a personal opinion. Jesus is Lord, yet not of my body, Jesus is Lord, yet not of my mind. We become reduced to our own understanding.

That is why there are 33,000 denominations within the world of Protestantism because they reject the Church of the New Testament. They reject the Church that Christ established giving it His authority.

To the Catholic, God's truth is absolute not guided by situations ethics bound by the human will. The Indifferentist always follows the least line of resistance and rejects Catholic teaching to include serious problems we face today: homosexuality, abortion, artificial birth control, Sacraments, the bible to name a few.

The "Heresy of Indifferentism" view opened the door for plurality in belief, liberal thought, and the New Age Movement to gain a foot hold in the Western World.

This strain of heresy is prevalent in the "Non-Denominational" groups many ranging from a Charismatic/Pentecostal background to a congregational "Baptist" setting.

In the 1990's some liturgical influenced groups began to emerge. Many of these churches have more of an auditorium with a stage set with lights. This is great for concerts, but it's not your traditional sanctuary bearing the Lord's Tabernacle and altar.

I have found success in witnessing to many of them as authority can resonate with them as they discover the doctrine of authority. When they discover the historical significance of the Church Christ founded and the authority he gave it, it becomes apparent. As a Catholic, we are called to respect those with sincere faith in their love for God. It is important for Catholics to understand their faith as some are drawn into some of these groups because of the great music, "praise and worship" centered events. It's easy to lose the will through the extreme.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week is wholly different

It is like a yearly retreat and it is like a heartache. 

We start out rejoicing on Palm Sunday, ringing out sweet "Hosannas!" and then abruptly crying out with the crowd, "Crucify him!"

We are overcome, sent to our knees in repentant silence.  It is so still you can almost hear the temple cloth tear in two.

But that was just yesterday, just Palm Sunday. We will be at Church almost daily this week. This is a week. The week. This is the time when Church Time and actual time, historical time march in step for a brief blip in the Liturgical Year. This week we follow His final week, from the washing of the disciples' feet to His fulfilling of the Passover Supper with the Lamb of God's flesh and blood. We suffer through the betrayal, arrest, and trial with the Sanhedrin. Pilate washes his hands, Barabbas walks amongst us again as our God takes His final tortured steps to Calvary. He breathes His last. His side is pierced. We are splashed in the flow of water and blood.

We don't understand. We weep or stand in dry eyed shock. He is taken from us into the tomb on Friday, and we wait.

Holy Saturday is such an empty day.

We contemplate a world where God is dead. Dead because of us. Because of me...


Then, as it does every other Saturday, the sun goes down.


After an empty Saturday, the empty tomb.

He is Risen. 

My Lord and my God!

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Catholic Defender: I Confer A Kingdom On You

Consider the following scripture:

"For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

I have heard people question Revelation 12:1-2,"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth."

 Jesus confers a kingdom upon the Apostles at the Last Supper sending them out to go to the whole world preaching the good news of this kingdom.

The Woman of Rev. 12 is crowned Queen of this Kingdom which is today nearly 2,000 years old.

Consider the following: "Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.  As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.  Untie it and bring it here.  And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’” So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” They answered, “The Master has need of it.” So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.  As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.  They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

Notice the imagery of the colt, the cloaks placed upon it and before it with the people chanting Hosanna to the Lord. This is something like the picture of King David and Solomon. The Triumphant Entry Into Jerusalem was a kings welcome. Consider King David, he instructed, "Take with you the royal attendants. Mount my son Solomon upon my own mule and escort him down to Gihon. There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet are to anoint him king of Israel, and you shall blow the horn and cry, 'Long live King Solomon!' When you come back in his train, he is to go in and sit upon my throne and reign in my place. I designate him ruler of Israel and of Judah... Then Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the horn and all the people shouted, 'Long live King Solomon!' Then all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing so much as to split open the earth with their shouting."

Now that is loud music! The loudest rock concert has not had this kind of impact! Jesus clearly is being treated as King of Israel when entering Jerusalem. They certainly wanted to make Jesus king right then and there. However, they did not understand that Jesus Kingdom is not of this world, the Church is his kingdom, but it is through the power of Jesus.

Jesus confers his kingdom upon His Apostles and this kingdom does not end with the death of the last Apostle but it is to be passed down until the Parousia when Jesus returns at the end of the age.

It is important to understand that Jesus did in fact established a kingdom that he confers upon the Apostles and that this kingdom continues to exist through the Promises of Christ. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, that Jesus would remain with it until the end of the age, and that he gave it the Holy Spirit to provide assurance of the Lord's presence among us.

There are those who made up man made division claiming the kingdom will not be here until the Parousia. That is a false gospel and the evidence of the Catholic Church is provided to anyone who has a desire to know the truth of Christ.

It is also important to note that Jesus invites us to eat and drink at His table in his kingdom! That is totally Eucharistic and so covenantal! In fact, it is through the Eucharist that we renew the Covenant within His Kingdom. You can't go anywhere else who is making counterfeits of all this.

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The Catholic Defender: Jesus triumphant Entry

"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).

The Lord Jesus quickly moves into Holy Week which leads to his passion and death. Sometimes, because of our own weakness, Jesus triumphant entry into our hearts can be marred because of our personal sin after accepting Him in our lives. Sometimes we may even loose our joy in the faith.

St. Paul gives us encouragement writing, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalitites, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38).

This is important because many of us will endure trials and tribulations, many of us will endure terrible passion and we are not left orphans. Jesus endured his passion for all so that we can offer our own suffering and tie it to Jesus.

St. Peter writes, "Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:13-17).

During the Gulf War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I would have people come to me for support from both superiors and subordinates.

I remember our Maintenance Officer was so afraid that we were not coming home because of his fear of the build up of Desert Shield. People truly feared the coming war.

Iraq at this time had the 4th largest Military in the world, their threat of Weapons of mass destruction was a real concern to us. I am so thankful that my faith was strong and could be a support for others. I was teaching people from my foxhole how to pray the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, reading the bible, encouraging them about the Faith.

What a blessing it was for me to find later that some of them did convert to the Catholic Faith as a result of our foxhole experiences.

While I was deployed to Iraq in 2009, I was at JSS UR when we were attacked with mortar fire. We were in the middle of a Platoon Sergeant meeting when off in the distance, we heard an explosion. Seconds later we heard another explosion much closer and finally, we had a third explosion that landed right behind us.

Everyone dove to the floor in response, some even grabbing chairs as shields. My back was towards this explosion and it was so loud it caused instant choas, but I remember instinctively going down to one knee, believe it or not, the Tebow prose.

Thinking back at that, I didn't really know Tim Tebow nor his image other than he was quarterback for Florida and was an "enemy" to Alabama (lol). But that's how I responded to the direct explosion to my back. I immediately went out to make sure there were no injuries and praise the Lord, there was none.

I raise this because I hope that it shows how faith can have an impact during the most difficult times. May the Lord give us strength during times of trial and tribulation. So that in our own lives, we point to Christ in all we do. We are the Easter people, we know the victory is already won.

St. Paul writes, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order. Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming, then the end. When he shall have delivered up the kingdom of God even the father when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Catholic Defender: The Popes

We adore you oh Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world. The Following are the Royal Steward's who have served the Lord the past 2,000 years.

1. St. Peter (32-67)
2. St. Linus (67-76)
3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)
4. St. Clement I (88-97)
5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
6. St. Alexander I (105-115)
7. St. Sixtus I (115-125)
8. St. Telesphorus (125-136)
9. St. Hyginus (136-140)
10. St. Pius I (140-155)
11. St. Anicetus (155-166)
12. St. Soter (166-175)
13. St. Eleutherius (175-189)
14. St. Victor I (189-199)
15. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)
16. St. Callistus I (217-22)
17. St. Urban I (222-30)
18. St. Pontain (230-35)
19. St. Anterus (235-36)
20. St. Fabian (236-50)
21. St. Cornelius (251-53)
22. St. Lucius I (253-54)
23. St. Stephen I (254-257)
24. St. Sixtus II (257-258)
25. St. Dionysius (260-268)
26. St. Felix I (269-274)
27. St. Eutychian (275-283)
28. St. Caius (283-296)
29. St. Marcellinus (296-304)
30. St. Marcellus I (308-309)
31. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)
32. St. Miltiades (311-14)

33. St. Sylvester I (314-35)
34. St. Marcus (336)
35. St. Julius I (337-52)
36. Liberius (352-66)
37. St. Damasus I (366-83)
38. St. Siricius (384-99)
39. St. Anastasius I (399-401)
40. St. Innocent I (401-17)
41. St. Zosimus (417-18)
42. St. Boniface I (418-22)
43. St. Celestine I (422-32)
44. St. Sixtus III (432-40)

45. St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)
46. St. Hilarius (461-68)
47. St. Simplicius (468-83)
48. St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
49. St. Gelasius I (492-96)
50. Anastasius II (496-98)
51. St. Symmachus (498-514)
52. St. Hormisdas (514-23)
53. St. John I (523-26)
54. St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)

55. Boniface II (530-32)
56. John II (533-35)
57. St. Agapetus I (535-36)
58. St. Silverius (536-37)
59. Vigilius (537-55)
60. Pelagius I (556-61)
61. John III (561-74)
62. Benedict I (575-79)
63. Pelagius II (579-90)

64. St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604)
65. Sabinian (604-606)
66. Boniface III (607)
67. St. Boniface IV (608-15)
68. St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18)
69. Boniface V (619-25)
70. Honorius I (625-38)
71. Severinus (640)
72. John IV (640-42)
73. Theodore I (642-49)

74. St. Martin I (649-55)
75. St. Eugene I (655-57)
76. St. Vitalian (657-72)
77. Adeodatus (II) (672-76)
78. Donus (676-78)
79. St. Agatho (678-81)
80. St. Leo II (682-83)
81. St. Benedict II (684-85)
82. John V (685-86)
83. Conon (686-87)

84. St. Sergius I (687-701)
85. John VI (701-05)
86. John VII (705-07)
87. Sisinnius (708)
88. Constantine (708-15)
89. St. Gregory II (715-31)
90. St. Gregory III (731-41)
91. St. Zachary (741-52)
92. Stephen II (752)
93. Stephen III (752-57)

94. St. Paul I (757-67)
95. Stephen IV (767-72)
96. Adrian I (772-95)
97. St. Leo III (795-816)
98. Stephen V (816-17)
99. St. Paschal I (817-24)
100. Eugene II (824-27)

101. Valentine (827)
102. Gregory IV (827-44)
103. Sergius II (844-47)
104. St. Leo IV (847-55)
105. Benedict III (855-58)
106. St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67)
107. Adrian II (867-72)
108. John VIII (872-82)
109. Marinus I (882-84)
110. St. Adrian III (884-85)
111. Stephen VI (885-91)
112. Formosus (891-96)
113. Boniface VI (896)
114. Stephen VII (896-97)
115. Romanus (897)
116. Theodore II (897)
117. John IX (898-900)
118. Benedict IV (900-03)
119. Leo V (903)
120. Sergius III (904-11)
121. Anastasius III (911-13)
122. Lando (913-14)
123. John X (914-28)
124. Leo VI (928)
125. Stephen VIII (929-31)
126. John XI (931-35)
127. Leo VII (936-39)
128. Stephen IX (939-42)
129. Marinus II (942-46)
130. Agapetus II (946-55)
131. John XII (955-63)
132. Leo VIII (963-64)
133. Benedict V (964)
134. John XIII (965-72)
135. Benedict VI (973-74)
136. Benedict VII (974-83)
137. John XIV (983-84)
138. John XV (985-96)
139. Gregory V (996-99)
140. Sylvester II (999-1003)
141. John XVII (1003)
142. John XVIII (1003-09)
143. Sergius IV (1009-12)
144. Benedict VIII (1012-24)
145. John XIX (1024-32)
146. Benedict IX (1032-45)
147. Sylvester III (1045)
148. Benedict IX (1045)
149. Gregory VI (1045-46)
150. Clement II (1046-47)
151. Benedict IX (1047-48)
152. Damasus II (1048)
153. St. Leo IX (1049-54)
154. Victor II (1055-57)
155. Stephen X (1057-58)
156. Nicholas II (1058-61)
157. Alexander II (1061-73)
158. St. Gregory VII (1073-85)
159. Blessed Victor III (1086-87)
160. Blessed Urban II (1088-99)
161. Paschal II (1099-1118)
162. Gelasius II (1118-19)
163. Callistus II (1119-24)
164. Honorius II (1124-30)
165. Innocent II (1130-43)
166. Celestine II (1143-44)
167. Lucius II (1144-45)
168. Blessed Eugene III (1145-53)
169. Anastasius IV (1153-54)
170. Adrian IV (1154-59)
171. Alexander III (1159-81)
172. Lucius III (1181-85)
173. Urban III (1185-87)
174. Gregory VIII (1187)
175. Clement III (1187-91)
176. Celestine III (1191-98)
177. Innocent III (1198-1216)
178. Honorius III (1216-27)
179. Gregory IX (1227-41)
180. Celestine IV (1241)
181. Innocent IV (1243-54)
182. Alexander IV (1254-61)
183. Urban IV (1261-64)
184. Clement IV (1265-68)
185. Blessed Gregory X (1271-76)
186. Blessed Innocent V (1276)
187. Adrian V (1276)
188. John XXI (1276-77)
189. Nicholas III (1277-80)
190. Martin IV (1281-85)
191. Honorius IV (1285-87)
192. Nicholas IV (1288-92)
193. St. Celestine V (1294)
194. Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
195. Blessed Benedict XI (1303-04)
196. Clement V (1305-14)
197. John XXII (1316-34)
198. Benedict XII (1334-42)
199. Clement VI (1342-52)
200. Innocent VI (1352-62)
201. Blessed Urban V (1362-70)
202. Gregory XI (1370-78)
203. Urban VI (1378-89)
204. Boniface IX (1389-1404)
205. Innocent VII (1404-06)
206. Gregory XII (1406-15)
207. Martin V (1417-31)
208. Eugene IV (1431-47)
209. Nicholas V (1447-55)
210. Callistus III (1455-58)
211. Pius II (1458-64)
212. Paul II (1464-71)
213. Sixtus IV (1471-84)
214. Innocent VIII (1484-92)
215. Alexander VI (1492-1503)
216. Pius III (1503)
217. Julius II (1503-13)
218. Leo X (1513-21)
219. Adrian VI (1522-23)
220. Clement VII (1523-34)
221. Paul III (1534-49)
222. Julius III (1550-55)
223. Marcellus II (1555)
224. Paul IV (1555-59)
225. Pius IV (1559-65)
226. St. Pius V (1566-72)
227. Gregory XIII (1572-85)
228. Sixtus V (1585-90)
229. Urban VII (1590)
230. Gregory XIV (1590-91)
231. Innocent IX (1591)
232. Clement VIII (1592-1605)
233. Leo XI (1605)
234. Paul V (1605-21)
235. Gregory XV (1621-23)
236. Urban VIII (1623-44)
237. Innocent X (1644-55)
238. Alexander VII (1655-67)
239. Clement IX (1667-69)
240. Clement X (1670-76)
241. Blessed Innocent XI (1676-89)
242. Alexander VIII (1689-91)
243. Innocent XII (1691-1700)
244. Clement XI (1700-21)
245. Innocent XIII (1721-24)
246. Benedict XIII (1724-30)
247. Clement XII (1730-40)
248. Benedict XIV (1740-58)
249. Clement XIII (1758-69)
250. Clement XIV (1769-74)
251. Pius VI (1775-99)
252. Pius VII (1800-23)
253. Leo XII (1823-29)
254. Pius VIII (1829-30)
255. Gregory XVI (1831-46)
256. Blessed Pius IX (1846-78)
257. Leo XIII (1878-1903)
258. St. Pius X (1903-14)
259. Benedict XV (1914-22)
260. Pius XI (1922-39)
261. Pius XII (1939-58)
262. Blessed John XXIII (1958-63)

263. Paul VI (1963-78)
264. John Paul I (1978)
265. Blessed John Paul II (1978-2005)
266. Benedict XVI (2005-2013)
267. Francis (2013—)

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