A Catholic Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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The pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Empress Saint Helena in the year 326 would forever position the Holy Land as an important destination for anyone identifying as a follower of Jesus Christ, and that place of importance for Catholics has only grown over time. St. Helena’s discovery of relics and the various holy sites are sites still visited by pilgrims today. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2014, out of 3.3 million visitors to Israel, 56% of incoming tourism was Christian tourism, 41% of which was Catholic.

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Young Jewish Women Pray at the Western Wall

A pilgrimage is a journey that’s sole purpose is to honor God. In the Torah, God commands Jews to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year: Pesah (Passover), Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (the Festival of Booths). Because the Jews, our elder brothers in faith, were familiar with this mandate from God, a pilgrimage would not have been an idea foreign to the early Christians.

Christians have been making pilgrimages to the Holy Land virtually since beginning of the Faith. The early Christian scholar, Origen, recorded examples of inhabitants of the Holy Land showing ancient visitors sites where Christ performed miracles as early as the 3rd century. One of the earliest pieces of evidence of Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land in search of the places where Jesus lived and carried out His public ministry is an inscription in a stone that reads, “Lord, we are here.”

For Christians, making a pilgrimage has never been something into which a person entered lightly. The very early Christians traveled from various parts of then-Judea to the different locations around the country where locals directed them to sites where Jesus and the Disciples exorcised demons, healed the sick, and taught the Word of God. In the Middle Ages, pilgrimages were sometimes given as a penance to a penitent who had committed a particularly heinous sin, not so much as a punishment, but as a purgative of sorts in order to atone appropriately for that sin because, in addition to a pilgrimage being a way to pay homage to the Lord, a pilgrimage, by its nature, is meant to be an arduous undertaking; the idea being that Christ carried His cross for all mankind, so could a pilgrim suffer a bit traveling to the land of His birth. The suffering experienced during the journey could be “offered up” for the poor souls in Purgatory, so it was not only a cleansing suffering, but a fruitful suffering as well.

For the modern pilgrim, the worst hardships to be experienced during the journey probably don’t extend much beyond a delayed connecting flight, a crowded plane, or lost luggage; however, the prayerful activity of a pilgrimage is still recommended to the faithful.

Making a pilgrimage, particularly to the Holy Land, is an important spiritual undertaking that will deepen a person’s faith in a unique way. For anyone not familiar with the history of Christianity, being in the Holy Land fleshes out the missing pieces, allowing for a much clearer, firmer foothold in the genealogy of the faith. Israel makes real for Christians the Jewish past that is the cornerstone of the present faith.

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Ukrainian Orthodox Members Receive a Blessing at the Jordan River

Susan Ignatius, a member of Fairway Christian Church in Florida, who, along with her daughter and others in her group, was baptized in the same waters of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John. Born in India, Susan’s father moved the family to the United States because he feared that persecution of Christians was eminent in India. “Christians need to come to the Holy Land so that we can walk where Jesus walked, so that we can be one in Jesus,” Ignatius said.

Israel is the birthplace of Christianity, creating a bond between the place and the faith that cannot and should not ever be severed.

A Pilgrimage in The Land of Mercy

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In April, New Media Journalist for the St. Louis Review, Lisa Johnston, North Central Regional Marketing Manager for EWTN, Christine Schicker, Public Relations Director, Midwest Region for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Denise Bossert, and I–I’m the Director of Marketing & Mission Awareness for the Archdiocese of St. Louis–were part of a four-woman contingent who, as guests of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, went to the Holy Land to experience The Year of Mercy in the very place where the greatest act of mercy was ever shown to mankind.

Touching down at Ben Gurion airport, anyone occupying an aisle seat wanting to catch a glimpse of the surroundings will likely wind up looking through the peo’t, or un-cut ringlets some Orthodox Jewish men wear on their temples in accordance with a Biblical restriction against cutting the hair there, of the men who are also looking out of the window onto the land their people have inhabited for thousands of years. Ancient prayers uttered softly in Hebrew, presumably in thanksgiving, mingle with the sound of seat belts being unfastened and mobile phones being powered on as everyone begins to disembark the plane. There’s an immediate sense that this is a special place, a place where God is present. It is a place where, in Christ’s Passion and Death, the greatest act of mercy ever took place. It is in this land where acts of mercy—both large and small—continue to take place every day.

A Catholic Pilgrimage

The first place most people probably think of when they think of the Catholic Church is Rome. However, unlike other religions, Catholics aren’t mandated by the Church to make a pilgrimage to Rome or anywhere else. For a Catholic, a pilgrimage is a personal undertaking.

In Rome a Catholic experiences the beauty, grandeur, and history of Catholicism. Most of the disciples, martyred for their faith, are buried in Rome. Beautiful artwork, produced over centuries and known the world-over, depicting all that Catholics hold sacred is housed in the Vatican Museums. In the life of the Catholic Church, Rome is—without a doubt—its Sunday best. However, while Rome may be the Church’s Sunday best, Israel is the place to experience the day-to-day, living faith of Catholicism.

For Catholics, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a unique and moving experience not only because Jesus Christ was born there but so, too, was the Catholic Church. The mercy inherent in the birth of Christ and subsequent rise of the Faith is made tangible in the Holy Land; the stone room where Christ’s birth was announced by an angel, the home of the first pope, the settings of the Gospel readings, Caesarea Philippi where Christ told Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” the locations where prayers such as the Our Father were first prayed, the garden where He would bitterly weep, the rock where His battered, bloodied body hung on a cross, and the place where His glorious, salvific resurrection happened are all there.

The Church of the Primacy of Peter is located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, only a few hundred yards from where the multiplication of loaves and fishes took place. The church stands over the place where, for the third time after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, made them a breakfast of fish, forgave Peter for denying Him, and asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” It is at this very location where Christ, once again, showed His love and mercy for the disciples.

Father Connor Sullivan, priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, reflected on the mercy Jesus showed to His followers at the site. “One of the most striking things about the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy is how close it is to many of the other sites in the Holy Land. …I looked down the coast and saw the place where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. In the opposite direction, I saw the place where Jesus likely called Peter and his brother, Andrew,” Father Sullivan said.

Father Sullivan reflected on how the events of Jesus’ life are tied together geographically. “I remembered that these were the waters upon which Jesus walked. These were the waters that Jesus calmed when the storm was tossing the little fishing boat and threatening the Apostles,” he said. “Here in Galilee, the beginning and the end of our Lord’s public ministry meet—along the coast of the same Sea of Galilee.”

It was at this same place where a group of pilgrims from St. Vladimir and Church of the Resurrection parishes in the Ukraine first put their feet into the water of the Sea of Galilee. So overwhelmed with the joy and excitement of stepping into the very sea upon which Christ walked 2,000 years ago, one of the older women in the group bolted toward the water, her grey hair covered by a bright kerchief that framed the enormous smile on her face. Trying to remove her sandals as she ran, she nearly fell several times. Finally making it to the cool water, she stopped, took in her surroundings, and began to cry, still with the smile on her face.

This Is a Holy Place

A small placard hangs on an external wall of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel which simply reads, This Is a Holy Place. There are very few places in Israel that don’t merit the description. One of the holy places of the Holy Land is the Basilica of the Annunciation, located in Nazareth.

Catholics know Nazareth as the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the childhood home of Jesus. Built in 1969 on the site of Crusader and Byzantine remains, the Basilica of the Annunciation is located on the site where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she had found favor with God and would bear a son. Today the Basilica is the functioning parish for all of Nazareth and to 8,000 people.

Tradition holds that the central grotto of the basilica was the home of Mary. The Annunciation, a painting by 19th century American artist Henry Tanner, gives a fairly accurate representation of what a room in Nazareth would have looked like at that time and any pilgrim familiar with that painting recognizes the scene immediately upon nearing the grotto in the modern basilica. The small stone room, once home to an unassuming Jewish girl, now houses a small altar bearing the inscription, et verbum caro factum est, behind the altar is a modest, gold tabernacle, above which hang seven red lamps, all of which can be seen through a locked gate.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—were present in that very place, though hidden, protected in the Virgin Womb of His Mother, Mary. Today, because of the miracle of transubstantiation, Jesus Christ—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—are still present in that very place, though hidden, protected by the gilded doors of the tabernacle and the secured gate.

Habib Karam, native Nazarene and proud parishioner of the Basilica of the Annunciation, is eager to show visitors this special place. When asked why it is particularly important for Catholics to visit the Holy Land Karam replied, “The Holy Family lived here. Catholics should come and experience it for themselves.”

Karam invites pilgrims he meets to weekly adoration at the Basilica, “I tell people, ‘Imagine you’re a little kid visiting your friend who is the only child in his family. He’s very happy to see you because he doesn’t get kids visiting him much. His mother is also happy because you’ve come to visit her son and made him happy. That’s our adoration. Jesus is there and Mary’s right there, watching you adoring her Son’.”

For a Catholic pilgrim, a significant part of the experience in being in the Holy Land is the doctrine of the Real Presence. For a Catholic sitting in a pew at the church in Cana, standing at an altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or kneeling in a Crusader-era church located in the middle of a Muslim village, as long as the Blessed Sacrament is within the tabernacle, that pilgrim is not only where Jesus was, that pilgrim is where Jesus is.

Small Acts of Mercy

Tucked away on the route to Jerusalem is the Arab village, Abu Gosh. Once a temporary home to the Ark of the Covenant, today Abu Gosh is home to a 12th century Crusader church—at one point used as a stable after being conquered by the Muslims—now serving as a French Benedictine Monastery, all under the tender, watchful eye of the monastery’s prior, Brother Olivier.

A Frenchman who served in the French Navy, Brother Olivier arrived in Israel in 1977 and settled in to what, according to the Benedictine rule, would be his permanent home in the Abu Gosh Monastery. For the next 35 years, Brother Olivier would, after learning Hebrew, become a father figure to some of the young soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces and virtual brother to his Muslim neighbors, all of whom visit the priest, learning about the Christianity he lives and, in turn, forging strong bonds. So loved and respected is Brother Olivier that, despite Israel’s typical process by which citizenship is granted to non-Israelis, jus sanguinis, Brother Olivier was eventually granted Israeli citizenship as a special token of appreciation for his work in and love for his adopted homeland. Brother Olivier’s gentle manner and obvious love for others draws in those who might be unlikely friends under different circumstances.

It’s his tenderness that made an otherwise unpleasant situation a small moment of mercy for a young French boy one Sunday afternoon. Made to stand in the corner of the church for misbehaving during Mass, the boy remained in his spot until granted a reprieve by his mother, long after Brother Olivier had distributed Holy Communion to those present. So upset at the fact he hadn’t been able to receive the Blessed Sacrament, the boy began to cry and explain the reason for his tears to an inquiring Brother Olivier. Walking the young penitent to the tabernacle—modeled after the Ark of the Covenant—Brother Olivier knelt by the boy, quietly exchanged words with him, gave him Communion, patted him on the shoulder and sent him off to his waiting mother. This was one small act of mercy, in a small monastery, in a small town, with monumental importance.

In the Land of Mercy

Somewhat a microcosm of the Holy Land itself, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in addition to being one of the holiest places on earth for Orthodox and Roman Catholics, as it is the recognized location where the Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ took place, it is a place where several different faith groups lay their claim. Six denominations, some of the most ancient known in Christianity, celebrate their rites in the gigantic church—all with deeply-held and differing traditions, all practiced under one consecrated roof.

Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic, and to a lesser degree the Egyptian Copts, Syriacs, and Ethiopians all have ownership of different sections of this church which stands where a Catholic church has stood since Constantine built there in the year 326. Not always an easy relationship to maintain even in today’s ecumenical climate, the graffiti carved into the stone walls of the church is a poignant reminder for all Christians that the most merciful act ever to occur took place there, for all of mankind. Thousands of small crosses, etched by pilgrims for over 1,000 years, including the well-known Jerusalem Cross of the Crusaders, cover the interior walls. They are a reminder to pilgrims today of the faithful travelers who came before, venerating this holy place, wanting to leave behind some small sign they were there.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located in one of the more paradoxical cities in Israel—Jerusalem. This ancient city and capital of Israel is considered a holy place by the three major monotheistic religions on earth; revered in Judaism for roughly 3,000 years, Christianity for 2,000 years, and Islam for 1,400 years.

Jerusalem is often referred to as being both of Heaven and earth and to be there is to understand that description. It is of Jerusalem that God said, “My Name shall be there.” (I Kings 8:29) To walk the stone paths of this ancient city is to walk where Christ walked, fell, and bled. There is no escaping the fact that Jerusalem is where the fingertips of the ancient and modern, secular and sacred touch every day.

A place many Americans equate with religious unrest, continual turmoil, and potential danger, Jerusalem is a city whose residents live side-by-side in an understood peace and mutual respect for one another, despite what the rest of the world views as insurmountable differences.

In the modern Holy Land, and, in particular, this modern holy city, mercy is a commodity greatly cultivated and highly prized. According to Michelle (Michal) Neumann, Certified Tour Guide for the State of Israel, “Israel is actually a very safe country because mercy is deeply embedded in Israeli culture; giving to others, putting caring for others first.” When asked how it is possible to practice these acts of mercy when there are those who would inflict terror on the citizens of her homeland, Neumann, a former attorney, replied, “In Israeli law, there is no death penalty. Israeli culture is against the death penalty, even for those who are convicted of killing Israeli citizens. In Israel, there is mercy shown even to those who would show none.”

In Israel now, as well as during the time of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, there is “mercy shown, even to those who would show none.”

It is important Catholics make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The very faith that today has over 1.2 billion followers began there. It is there where Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, suffered for all of the sins of all mankind, for all time, and where He died and rose again. Israel is a land that, without a doubt, has been touched by God, inhabited by His Son, and is watched over by His Holy Spirit. Israel is where the true joy of love and true mercy was shown and lived out, and for which no one will ever be able to sufficiently merit. For a Catholic, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a trip home, a home where mercy lives.

Elizabeth can be followed on Twitter at: @eswesthoff 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF YOU’RE CATHOLIC, DORITOS ARE NACHO CHIP…

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For the last several years, Frito-Lay, the company that owns Doritos, has sponsored the Crash the Super Bowl contest. Consumers are invited to create their own Doritos ads and at least one fan-made commercial is guaranteed to air during the Super Bowl. Over the years Doritos offered bonus prizes ranging from $400,000 to $1,000,000 making the Crash the Super Bowl contest the largest online video contest in the world.

During this year’s Super Bowl, a Crash the Super Bowl Doritos commercial aired that riled up both the pro-life and the pro-abortion factions.

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If you haven’t seen it, a mother is lying on an exam table looking at the ultrasound image of her baby while the baby’s father is standing alongside crunching on the contents of a bag of Doritos.

The next thing we see is the father waving a chip in front of the ultrasound image of the baby who, in turn, darts after the chip, eventually rocketing out of the womb in an attempt to grab the snack.

NARAL's Tweet during the commercial. Absurd.

NARAL’s Tweet during the commercial. Absurd.

NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) disliked the ad because it “humanized the fetus.”

An absolutely absurd statement that merits no further discussion here.

What happened after the commercial aired was interesting, albeit not entirely surprising; the pro-life community felt validated, stories about the real baby in the ultrasound (the director used the ultra sound of his own son, Freddy), and a great and growing vocal show of support for Doritos emerged on Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and grassroots efforts of the faithful to show Doritos how much the pro-life contingent appreciates their pro-life stand.[insert sound effect of needle scratching across record here…]

While I am, indeed, very happy that a human fetus was shown on national television, during the most highly watched broadcast of the year, for what it, in fact, is–a living human being; and while I’m very happy to show support for any corporate entity that will, at least, not negate the humanity of a baby in the womb, I’m a tad apprehensive about crawling up on that “DORITOS: FRIEND OF THE FAITHFUL!” bandwagon.

Here’s why…

Pride in their chips…

EXHIBIT A:

Last year Doritos decided to jump on the LGBT bandwagon (while we’re talking about bandwagons) and it released limited-edition rainbow colored chips.

The company produced the chips in order to “celebrate and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the boldest, most colorful way possible.”

The Roy G. Biv chips were inspired by the gay pride flag and were only available to consumers who donated $10 to the It Gets Better Project.

What is the It Gets Better Project? In theory, the mission of the organization isn’t altogether horrible. It’s an organization that supports LGBT youth around the world. Basically, life as an LGBT youth is terribly difficult (which I’m sure it its) and the IGBP was formed “In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.” Unfortunately instead of leading these youth in a direction similar to that of the Catholic apostolate, Courage:

“The heart of Courage and EnCourage spirituality, based on the writings of Saint Francis de Sales and The Five Goals of Courage, is the belief that sanctity is possible in everyday life. Through the Courage Apostolate those persons experiencing same-sex attractions are encouraged to deepen their Christian discipleship through participation in the sacramental life of the Church, particularly through the frequent reception of the Eucharist and frequent confession, as well as through a regular prayer life, witness, counsel, service, and self-giving. By developing a dedicated prayer life and seeking meditative and prayerful union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we come to recognize our true identity as children of God, men and women in Christ, understanding and experiencing the unconditional love of God, thus conforming ourselves to His will for our lives. Fr. Harvey recognized this transformation as a process requiring great patience and perseverance, where “white-knuckled chastity” will give way to “interior chastity of the heart,” when a soul truly seeks wholeness and holiness in Christ.”

the IGBP’s mission is to be, “a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members.”

EXHIBIT B:

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In 2010 a filmmaker from Pennsylvania produced a Crash the Super Bowl entry that featured the products Doritos and Pepsi Max. The commercial was entitled “Feed Your Flock” and the story featured an older man in a Roman collar and a younger man in a Roman collar discussing how they might pay all of their invoices and get the church out of debt. 

Wait a minute! Divine intervention! We’ll have a “Free Doritos and Pepsi Max Sunday!”

Now, the imagery throughout this commercial is a mish-mash of Protestant, Catholic, and non-denominational, so it’s difficult to say that which particular faith is being mocked; however, the climax of the commercial features the congregation all lining up, approaching the “priests” and receiving a Dorito chip and a small glass of Pepsi Max in what is clearly a mockery of the reception of Holy Communion.

Communion: A perfectly fine thing to mock!

Communion: A perfectly fine thing to mock!

If you want to watch the whole thing for yourself, you can find it on YouTube here

Word leaked out about this entry and a number of Catholic blogs and websites put out the word to pray for reparation. Calls and emails flooded Pepsi demanding that Feed your Flock not win the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Finally, CatholicMom.com blogger Victoria Gisondi, posted the following: “Great News! Thanks to all the phone calls, prayers and comments, Pepsi has informed a friend that the commercial didnt [sic] make the cut. I still need to verify this but it’s great news. Thanks for your help.”

Here we are, six years later, and we’re in love with Doritos.

It is very difficult to be a Catholic in today’s culture.

Adobe, American Cancer Society, American Express, AT&T, Avon, Bank of America, Bath & Body Works, Ben & Jerry’s, Clorox, Converse, Deutsche Bank, Dockers, Energizer, Expedia, ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, Groupon, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, La Senza, Levi Strauss, Liberty Mutual, Macy’s, March of Dimes, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Oracle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Progressive, Starbucks, Susan G. Komen, Tostitos, Unilever, United Way, Verizon, Wells Fargo are all companies that have directly funded Planned Parenthood. Do we boycott them all? We should. But we don’t.

So Doritos ran a contest-winning commercial that showed a baby in the womb. Just because they didn’t show it being destroyed by saline and then dissected and vacuumed out doesn’t mean they’re a new champion of life.

All I’m saying is just proceed with caution.

DEATH AND DISAPPOINTMENT…

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In the wake of the attacks on Paris, the social media sphere erupted with outrage, sadness, fear, check-ins, news reports, and first-hand posts from those who had experienced the slaughter first-hand.

No more than 24 hours later, the complaining started.

First it was the Catholics complaining that the use of the French tricolor flag to show support for France was unbecoming for use by any Catholic who was worth his salt.

Then it was reported that university students were complaining that the Paris bombings were stealing attention away from their protests.

Then it was those who complained that all the coverage of the attacks was giving Islam a bad rap.

Then it was the Russians, Lebanese, and Africans who complained that the recent attacks on their soil didn’t get any attention. Where were their Facebook check-ins and profile picture overlays? The New York Times quoted, “no one cares when it happens in those places, where it’s expected.”

#don't_pray_for_ParisThen a cartoonist from the recently attacked Charlie Hebdo complained via Instagram that people were praying for Paris.

Here’s something I’d like all of us to stop and consider for a moment; 132 people were massacred on Friday night. Are the above points worthy of consideration? Absolutely. However, what is correct isn’t always appropriate.

“…he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.” (IS 53:7)

Notre Dame de Paris, pray for the people of your city! Our Lady of Grace, you who showed yourself to Saint Catherine Laboure and brought miracles, who smiled upon Saint Therese of Lisieux and created a missionary, in your holy Motherhood, please intercede for your fearful and endangered people; bring your consolations to the people of Paris and all of France. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, hear us. 

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Saint Therese of Lisieux, Patron of France, pray for them
Saint Joan of Arc, Patron of France, pray for them.
Saint Martin of Tours, Patron of France, pray for them
Saint Remigius, Patron of France pray for them
Saint John Vianney pray for them
Saint Jeanne Jugan pray for them
Saint St Genevieve pray for them
Saint Denis pray for them
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux pray for them
Saint Germain Cousin pray for them
Saint Peter Julian Eymard pray for them
Saint Louis pray for them
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque pray for them
Saint Peter Fourier pray for them
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat pray for them
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin pray for them
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal pray for them
Saint Catherine Laboure pray for them
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne pray for them
Saint John Eudes pray for them
Saint Vincent de Paul pray for them
Saint Hilary of Poitiers pray for them
Saint Isaac Jogues pray for them
Saint Jane de Chantal pray for them
Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle pray for them
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre pray for them

Coptic Martyrs, victims of ISIS, pray for them

All you holy men and women, pray for France, and pray for us.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Litany from Elizabeth Scalia’s post at aletiea.com

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THE PAPAL VISIT: IN THE STYLING OF ROSEANNE ROSEANNADANNA

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"Dear Roseanne..."

Dear Roseanne, Ever since Pope Francis arrived in the United States and started talking about this, that, and the other thing, all I’ve been hearing is people complaining about what he’s saying, what he isn’t saying, what he should be saying. What do you think about all this and should I even care? Sincerely, Milton Dworkin

What does this have to do with anything?

Mr. Dworkin, I know what you’re talkin’ about, because, I, Roseanne Roseannadanna, have had the same thought! From the minute the Pope arrived, I’ve only been upset that he was wearin’ white after Labor Day, but when you’re the Pope, I guess you can do whatever you want! Like this one time, when Dr. Joyce Brothers was at the same restaurant I was at. I looked over and there she was-eatin’ her meatloaf with a salad fork! I said, “Hey! Joyce! What’re you doin’ with that salad fork, eatin’ your meatloaf?!” Meatloaf was goin’ everywhere! It was makin’ me sick! I thought I was gonna die!

Anyway, so Pope Francis talked to the members of Congress yesterday and he talked about the Golden Rule, and the death penalty, and the environment. I don’t know if any of those congress people were payin’ attention or not, but a lot of Catholics were. It made me think of my Aunt, Hosanna Roseannadanna–who was a real brainy, serious kinda’ gal–and who used to say to me when I was just a little, tiny girl, she’d say, “Rosanne, the Church cares about all of the issues facing people today, but She doesn’t weigh war, healthcare, and capital punishment the same as She weighs abortion or other non-negotiables like euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex unions. For instance, just as if your child had both a messy room and been caught freebasing heroin. Both are bad, but one necessitates an immediate, serious discussion. The other can be dealt with along the way.”

It's always somethin'...

It just goes to show you. It’s always somethin’. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

OH THE HUMANITY…

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The following is just my own version of the somewhat hackneyed phrase, “Oh the humanity!” that was uttered by American radio reporter, Herbert Morrison; overwhelmed at the sight of the Hindenburg exploding above his head. There is simply too much to try to process regarding the recent videos that have finally brought to light the enormity that is Planned Parenthood. So, please excuse this blog. Try as I might, I find that I cannot organize my thoughts about this topic enough to have them make much sense. –Elizabeth

 

In the last couple of weeks, videos have surfaced of Planned Parenthood “medical” officials casually discussing the harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted babies over casual lunches and matter-of-factly separating the wheat from the chaff of the tiny, harvested body parts.

Almost as soon as the videos started going viral on social media, so, too, did the rebuttals that the videos were fakes, that the means by which they were attained were unethical, that we should be careful in our approach to discuss these videos.

The fact of the matter is that we as human beings, and certainly we as Catholics, should be so horrified, so disgusted, so ashamed by what we heard discussed and what we have now seen in these videos, that we should be rendered speechless, both from terror and from tears.

We No Longer Fear

As a society, we no longer fear anything.

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There was a time when stories about and images like these here horrified and frightened man. Not quite in the same way that horror movies of today frighten us, but in a way that forced the viewer to look into his own heart and consider, even if just for a moment, whether or not what he saw within that organ was the same sort of evil he had just heard in the story or saw in the image before him.

Today we, who are ever so sophisticated, who have smugly intellectualized God right out of existence, look at these images and find them cartoonish and over the top.

We, all of us, have become anesthetized, to one degree or another, to the horrific, to the dreadful, perhaps even to evil itself.

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Francisco Goya: Saturn Devouring His Son

Now, more than ever, we should be afraid–very afraid. “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.” –God

 

We are the sum of our whole and our whole is currently rotten to the core and the collective is too blind and too ignorant to see it.

Too Smart to Believe in Satan

I think I can safely say most of us don’t act upon homicidal ideation. What then of the homicidal functionaries of Planned Parenthood we see in the videos? Were they born evil? Are they possessed? Are they criminally insane? The answer I hear most often regarding the workers in this diabolic vineyard is, “No. They just don’t understand what they’re doing.”

Whether they do or do not, their actions are evil and they themselves are the purveyors of evil; carrying out their acts in the name of enlightenment, with the same cannibalistic ferocity of Saturn in the painting by Goya.

Charles Baudelaire is credited as saying, “My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!” I think we can all agree, finally, that he does, indeed, exist and resides within the walls of Planned Parenthood and within the hearts of many who do its work.

“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8)

Watch these videos. I implore you. Yes, they are graphic. Yes, they are upsetting. Yes, they are going to haunt you…and they should. We must do everything we can to wake ourselves and those around us from the drugged stupor in which we are walking nowadays. We must be a witness to these lost lives. We must be a voice for them. We must be a voice crying out to Heaven!

The culture in which we now live is the excrement produced when pride and arrogance gorge on too much stupidity, ignorance, indifferentism, passivity, and moral relativism. We as Catholics must heed the words of St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein), who was witness to another great holocaust of humanity, when she tells us, “The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.” Indeed.

May God have mercy on us.

Marriage Is…

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As you probably know by now, this morning the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

marriage-convenant-730x250The definition of marriage has been changed in the law of the land.

However, regardless of today’s SCOTUS ruling, for us Catholics, the definition of marriage as a sacramental institution of marriage remains unchanged: The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ All human generations proceed from this union. ‐Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2335

In the coming days, you will, no doubt, find yourself engaged in conversation, heated debates, question and answer sessions with loved ones, friends, foes… Understand that the Church isn’t against anyone’s right to the pursuit of happiness; however, She has certain teachings that cannot change to meet the approval of the culture in which She resides and that these teachings exist in order for all God’s children to live in happiness and holiness in this life so that we can live with Him in the next.

Holy Family, pray for us.

THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL BLOG I’VE EVER WRITTEN…

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elizabeth_westhoff-e1434564904891-270x300Given the breathtaking turn of events we’ve seen in our culture in the last month or so regarding gender, race, marriage, what I’m about to write will be the most controversial blog I’ve ever written.

I am a white, heterosexual, Catholic woman. No, really, I actually am.

There. I’ve done it. Let the backlash begin.

Fifty Shades of I Don’t Care

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Originally published February 12, 2015

This will be brief.

I am a Roman Catholic. I am the pop culture blogger for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I have a Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature.

I am sick and tired of hearing about 50 Shades of Grey.

Does it portray sexual intimacy in a way that is counter to Catholic teaching? Absolutely.

Is it responsible for the ruination of marriage in our culture? It certainly falls in the category of “things that probably are.”

Is it a flash in the pan? Yes.

Is it good literature? From the excerpt I read in order to be able to make this comment…no.

Am I offended by the content of 50 Shades of Grey? Yes.

Am I, perhaps, a bit more offended by the innumerable abortions, beheadings, immolation, human trafficking, pedophilia, euthanasia, murders, rapes, robberies, et cetera taking place every day all over the planet? Yes.

What’s an alternative to 50 Shades of Grey?Nuns!

Saint Valentine, pray for us!