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!

“ALL THE DEVIL ASKS IS ACQUIESCENCE…”

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Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh

Today I watched a video that was released of a young man (purportedly Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh) wearing a wet, orange jumpsuit. He was caged like an animal. A masked man with a torch touched the flame to a line of earth that led to the cage, encircling it. As the flame reached the cage, the man inside was engulfed in fire. He frantically bat at the flames with his burning arms. I was amazed at how long he remained standing as he became a pillar of fire. Finally he fell to his knees, head bowed. As the videographer zoomed in on his head for a close up, you could see this young man, literally, melting. His charred remains fell back and that was the end of the video.

It was one of the most horrific things I have ever seen.

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I have watched other videos like this. I have not watched them because of a morbid fascination. Each has sickened me. Each has frightened me. Each has left me weeping. I have not watched them because I felt compelled to do so, I watched them because I felt obligated to do so. I watched them so that just one more person would be aware of the evil that roams the earth. I watched them so that I would be informed as to what is happening in our world. I watched them so that I could pray for the victim.

With the release of each of these videos, I have been reminded of the images of the citizens of Weimar, Germany that General George Patton marched through Buchenwald after W.W. II. Approximately 2,000 of them–all civilians–were made to march several miles up a steep hill. It took days for the townspeople to file through the camp. There were no precautions taken to protect them from the typhus epidemic in the camp. In their clean, starched and pressed dresses and suits, the townspeople came face-to-face with the enormity of evil men and the death that resulted from it. They left that day with the stench of barbarity upon them.

General Patton wrote to General Dwight Eisenhower: We have found at a place four miles north of WEIMAR a similar camp, only much worse. The normal population was 25,000, and they died at the rate of about a hundred a day…I told the press to go up there and see it, and then write as much about it as they could. 

I often find myself in a minority of thought and opinion. With this post, I am sure I will find myself there once again. We should be echoing General Patton’s directive to “write as much about it” as we can! We should be telling each other what we know without fear of appearing a lunatic. No longer can we turn a blind eye to evil and hatre

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d!  Today’s video. Abortion photos. Holocaust photos. They should all be force fed to our population so that we see evil for what it really is. So people will recognize it when it finally meets them face-to-face…and it will. We are, each of us, complicit in our own way. Silence is tacit approval. Unfortunately, I fear we are reaping what we have sown.

Pray. Fast. Pray again.

All angels, saints, and martyrs, pray for us! May God have mercy on us.

I DID NOT SURVIVE ROE VS. WADE

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RoevWadeToday is the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. Nearly one million people will be marching in Washington, D.C. today to show their disagreement with the decision. There will be thousands of signs protesting the murder of the victims of this law, posters of cherubic babies asking that their brothers and sisters in the womb be spared, tiny gold and silver feet pinned to lapels, and banners stating “I survived Roe v. Wade.”

I don’t like that last one. I was born in 1974, so I am part of the group that supposedly “survived Roe v. Wade.” It seems to me, by stating you survived Roe v. Wade, there was a chance you wouldn’t have survived, that your mother considered aborting you. My mother did not consider aborting me.

By following the Blessed Mother’s lead in putting herself aside, by allowing God’s will to be done, by saying “I will,” my mother gave me life, she gave me the opportunity to participate in the fight against this grave evil, and she gave me the occasion to be a witness of God’s love in the world. My mother’s fiat–and every other mother’s fiat since 1973–is what must be echoed by every woman if we are ever to overturn the atrocity of Roe v. Wade.

I did not survive Roe v. Wade. I triumphed over Roe v. Wade.

Saints Gianna and Gerard Majella and Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

CHARLIE’S ANGELS

Yesterday morning I awoke to a deluge of Twitter alerts regarding the terror attack in Paris on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.  Twelve people were killed in the attack, including 10 members of the paper’s staff.

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Not being much of a Francophile, I wasn’t terribly familiar with the publication, always assuming it was an adult Mad Magazine, of sorts.

After the horror of the morning’s updates, I searched Charlie Hebdo on Twitter.  The first thing I saw was the paper’s avatar.

Now, as a Catholic, still celebrating Christmas—one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar—this image of my Lord and Savior and His spotless, ever-virgin Mother is disgusting and disrespectful.  However, I am not moved to kill anyone over it.

See, that’s what separates peaceful people of God from those who take religious extremism to violence.

Liberty has no boundaries, neither does hatred.  But then, neither does the love of Jesus Christ.

Ste. Joan of Arc, pray for France!

IF I WERE THE SOVEREIGN ORDER OF MALTA, I’D BE MIFFED…

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aventinoSince the rumors concerning His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke’s reassignment as the Cardinalis Patronus of the Sovereign Order of Malta, all we’re hearing is what a demotion this new position is. (Interestingly enough, when Cardinal Burke was appointed as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, his detractors and the mainstream media went berserk with talk of that being a demotion despite that, beside the Holy Father, he held the second most powerful position in the Roman Curia.)

In the more anxious circles of the Catholic Church, the transfer is being examined and dissected in any number of ways. In the more uncharitable circles of the Church, the transfer is being celebrated with mocking commentary about His Eminence and the Order of Malta. Internal politics of the Church aside for a moment, the Cardinal’s new position is being touted generally as “ceremonial,” “pencil-pushing,” “punitive” and the like.

What mustHospital-cameroon those who are members of the Sovereign Order of Malta be thinking about all of this?

According to their website, “the Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization. Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. Its 13,500 members… [are] devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity. What distinguishes the Knights of Malta is their commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church and to expendingtheir energies serving the poor and the sick.” The site goes on to state: “The Order of Malta remains true to its inspiring principles, nurturing, witnessing and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick representing the Lord, which become reality through the voluntary work carried out by Dames and Knights in humanitarian assistance and medical and social activities.”  Finally, “The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law, with its own constitution, passports, stamps, and public institutions. The Order has diplomatic relations with 104 countries – manyOrdine-di-Malta-soccorso-ai-migranti of which non-Catholic – and missions to major European countries, as well as to European and international organizations. The Order of Malta is neutral, impartial and non-political, which is why it can successfully act as a mediator between States.”

The Sovereign Order of Malta is no small thing, nor are the innumerable corporal works of mercy it carries out in over 120 countries around the globe. In fact, and here’s where I’ll irritate several people, I’d venture to say the Order of Malta is actually carrying out the mission of the Catholic Church and the directives of Christ Himself in a more efficacious way than some of the social institutions and religious orders of the Church.

It’s Just a Bunch of Wealthy People Showing Off

Even if that were what the Order of Malta is about—which it is not—for some inexplicable reason, our culture seems to think that money, pageantry, and ceremony are backwards, evil things to be avoided (except when it comes to spending obscene amounts of money on symbolically-laden weddings). There is nothing wrong with ceremony, pageantry, or wealth as long as they’re put to good use and the Sovereign Order of Malta does precisely that.

Anything done without meaning is fruitless. In the Church, pageantry and ceremony exist for a reason. They are not empty shows of wealth and foppishness. For those who understand them, they are beautiful, public displays of humility and an attempt at the glorification of the King of Kings.  (For instance, the much-maligned Cappa Magna has its symbolism rooted in Ephesians 4, 22 and 24. When the Cappa is removed the bishop prays:  Take off of me, Lord, the old man with his manners and deeds: and put on me the new man, who according to God is created in justice, and the holiness of truth. (via New Liturgical Movement)

In the Order of Malta, members are recognized by the eight-pointed Cross they wear which represents the eight Beatitudes and is “thus a visual memento of [the order’s] spirituality.”IMG_2262

From the website, “The Order remains true to its inspiring principles: defence of the Faith and service to the suffering. Its members share the same vocation and strive together for solidarity, justice and peace, based on the teaching of the Gospels and in the closest communion with the Holy See. They are involved in active and dynamic charity supported by prayer. No Knight or Dame is such by privilege of birth or merits acquired, but for having answered to the call to be where there is a material or moral need, where there is suffering.”

Based on the Order’s devotion to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity, it’s members’ commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church, their representing the Lord by nurturing, witnessing, protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick, they have just been given a great gift  of a Cardinal Patron whose values match their own.

How many of us could learn a lesson from the Order of Malta?

THE SINGING NUN…

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1903019_726815847411347_3901956288304105571_nThose of you who know me have often heard me say that religious orders should make themselves available to families and young women in order to let them see that saying “yes” to a vocation isn’t saying “no” to life. In the case of Sr. Cristina; however, I believe grave errors in judgement have been made. Barbara Nicolosi recently gave an interview to the Catholic News Agency and said just what I’ve been thinking

After you read the link from Barbara, check out the video. I’m reminded of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry suspects his dentist has recently converted to Judaism solely so that he could tell Jewish jokes. Jerry is asked, “are you offended because you’re Jewish?” and he responds “No, I’m offended because I’m a comedian.” Sister Cristina’s “Like a Virgin” video is awful…for any number of reasons.  Click here for the video.

THE SYNOD OF EXCESS

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Opening_Session_of_the_Extraordinary_Assembly_of_the_Synod_of_Bishops_at_the_Vatican_on_Oct_6_2014_Credit_Mazur_catholicnewsorguk_CC_BY_NC_SA_20_3_CNA_10_7_14Last week I found myself growing increasingly irritated with the Synod going on in Rome and the various reports coming out of it.

While I understand that the family is the core of the Church and by strengthening the family you strengthen the Church, and while I appreciate the fact that it is important for the Magisterium to look at the family in the 21st century, reading all the reports coming out of Vatican City, I became acutely aware of the fact that, what seemed to be the main points of discussion in the morass that, from all external appearances, was that Synod, are all issues rooted in excess.

What was being discussed at the Synod: divorce, remarriage, homosexuality, are all symptoms of a culture that is living beyond its means, beyond its capacity to control itself, and is bemoaning its own self-inflicted injurious acts, with the Synod acting as a Band-Aid–letting enough air pass through to allow a scab to form ocardinal-kasperver a wound, but not doing anything to address the scar that will be left behind in the aftermath.

While the Magisterium was treating these issues of excess with kid gloves, while there were Princes of the Church giving rise to scandal instead of defending the teachings of our faith, while the Vatican Communications Office was releasing documents that read as if they were translated by Google Translate, and media gleefully reporting on all of it as if it were a trashy reality show, Christians around the globe continued being slaughtered by hate-filled zealots simply because they exist.

While the topEgypt-Christiansics of discussion at the Synod are, indeed, important and deserve inspection and discussion, our gluttonous, Western ways and the repercussions they produce are, perhaps, not deserving of a Synod at the moment.  Perhaps the persecution, rape, crucifixion, beheading, and martyrdom of the followers of Christ might, instead, be more deserving an issue, especially by those who are in charge of the Church He left behind.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS RULES AND EXPECTATIONS. THANK GOD.

In 2005, the United Auto Workers issued a statement regarding Marine reservists who were using a UAW parking lot that read, in part, “While Reservists certainly have the right to drive non-union made vehicles…that doesn’t mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW.”

Coke/PepsiIf you are an employee of PepsiCo. and are seen drinking a Coca-Cola product in public, you can be, and should expect to be, formally reprimanded by the company.

Last month, a Glendale police officer was fired after writing on his personal Facebook page that the protesters in Ferguson should be “put down like rabid dogs” and were “a burden on society and a blight on the community.”

Instead of outrage, protests, or letters to editors, people were pleased the officer was removed from his office. His behavior was not appropriate for his office so he was removed from it.

Imagine if a person were to interview for and accept a position at Planned Parenthood, out himself as anti-abortion and then become outraged when Planned Parenthood didn’t stop providing abortions. Would the community support him for his beliefs? Would there be public outrage that Planned Parenthood wasn’t open-minded or catering to its employee’s beliefs? Would there be media scrutiny?

Of course not.  How absurd.

If a person actively seeks out employment within a Catholic institution, he should understand and expect that the basic tenets of the Faith will be promulgated and; hopefully, upheld in that institution.

Catholic institutions and people who are employed by Catholic institutions should be held to a much higher standard. Catholics have a right to expect our institutions and employees be held to a higher standard. Catholics should be pleased that our institutions and employees are held accountable for their actions.  Catholics should support our institutions and employees for adhering to these standards.

If we as the Church do not hold firm to our beliefs and our traditions; if we do not intend to teach the Faith, to propagate the Faith, to defend the Faith, then what has been the point of the last 2000 years?

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis employees sign a Christian Witness Statement upon employment with the archdiocese. This statement reads in part: “‘IndeedQuotation-Fulton-J-Sheen
the primordial mission of the Church is to proclaim God and to be His witness before the world.’  …the following Witness Statement applies to all who serve the Archdiocese of St. Louis. All who serve in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, in the parishes, schools, offices, agencies and other ministries and apostolates will witness by their public behavior, actions, and words, a life consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

If you want to park on the UAW lot in Detroit, you’d better not drive a non-union made car.  If you want to work for PepsiCo., you’d better not drink Coke.  If you want to be a police officer, you’d better not suggest anyone should be “put down”. If you want to work for the Catholic Church, you can’t live a life that publicly defies Her teachings.

 Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
-Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.

OUR FIAT. DO NOT BE AFRAID.

At the moment our first parents, Adam and Eve, lost Paradise for us, we began waiting. 2,000 years ago, a young girl named Mary waited with the rest of the world for her savior, not knowing that she would be the vessel that would pour out salvation to humanity. With just a few words, the world’s wait was over…

The Latin for “let it be done” is “fiat.”  Mary’s response to the angel, in Latin is, “Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” Mary’s “fiat” is her “yes” to God.  So “fiat”, in addition to being the name of a cute, little Italian car, is what we use to refer to Mary’s response to the angel.

Mary’s fiat is special because it is through this act of humble submission to the will of God that the Son of God makes His entrance into human history, taking on a human nature and becoming one like us in all things but sin. It is an example to us of obedience and faith in the Lord.  Imagine if each of us responded to the will of the Lord by saying, “Let it be done!”

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI offered a reflection concerning the role of Mary as a model of prayer and the prototype of the Christian life and vocation. In this instruction he said, “The Christian life involves a continuing, ongoing walk with the Lord. He invited each of us into an intimate, personal, exchange of love, a life of communion. This kind of intimacy with a living, loving God is the interior meaning of Mary’s Fiat, her Magnificat, and the example of her life.”

Mary’s life, if we look at it without her role in salvation, is unremarkable. She was, except in sin, like any other young woman 2,000 years ago. She cooked, she cleaned, she visited with neighbors and family. She existed.

Where Mary’s story becomes remarkable is the point at which God initiates a relationship with her. We often hear people say they are “seeking God” or “finding God.”  To say we’re “seeking God” implies that He is hidden from us. He is not hidden, He is with us, always and everywhere–always has been, always will be. It is really more accurate to say that we are simply trying to figure out what it is that God wants of us. What we don’t often have is the luxury of one of the archangels coming to us to tell us what, exactly, it is that God is asking of us, but, we’re not Mary and I suppose as the mother of the savior of the world, there’s bound to be some favoritism…

Our own relationship with God really has more to do with opening ourselves to recognizing that God is already there, always has been, and is seeking us out.  Our relationship with God is not one of discovering a God who is hidden from us, but rather, one of opening ourselves to let God enter in. In Matthew (7:7) we are told, “Seek and you shall find.” God is already there, and has been there from time eternal, waiting for each one of us. That surrender to God is not always easy; however. A relationship with God, like all relationships, takes work to keep the relationship strong, healthy, and productive.

It’s important to remember, too, that even for Mary, whom God held in such special favor, there was fear, and we know this because the angel says, “Do not be afraid, Mary…” (1:30).

Fear is not an uncommon response when we first start thinking about coming into a relationship with God. We might ask ourselves, who is this all-powerful Creator of the universe? What is God like? What does He want of me? Will I be worthy? Am I going to be asked to do something “holy” (like, become a nun or missionary or something?) Am I going to have to change the way I live my life? Am I going to become some sort of weird “religious fanatic?”

Mary is, indeed, asked to do something great for God, something strange and wonderful. But first she is assured that she is perfectly acceptable to God just as she is. The angel tells her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (1:30). The most important thing about God is that we do not have to be afraid. One of the things I love about our faith is that we are continually being told, “Do not be afraid!”  In fact, that phrase appears 365 times in the Bible.  Interestingly enough, over the last 2,000 years, we seem to not heed that admonition as much as we should, but nevertheless, when we do reflect on it, it’s comforting.

“Do not be afraid.” It is that assurance from Gabriel that gives Mary the courage to accept what God is asking of her.

God is asking her to do a great thing. He is asking the same thing of each one of us–literally, to bear God’s Son into the world. But we will not have to do it alone.  We do not have to be afraid. God will be with us along the way, and God will give us the strength to bear what we have to bear, and to do what we have to do. Have the courage to repeat Mary’s fiat and say: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

YOU ARE HATED. GIRD YOUR LOINS.

This past weekend my colleague Lisa Johnston and I went out on our first video shoot for the 2014 ACA video. The first location we shot was outside of Planned Parenthood, where we were capturing the Rosary-laced fingers of those who stand outside of that horrible establishment praying for a change of heart for those who are considering the destruction of their children, for the conversion of those whose livelihood is funded by the annihilation of human life, and for the souls of those poor innocents whose lives are about to be lost.

As we were shooting Saturday morning, the prayerful silence of those who were pacing the sidewalk was broken by the voice of a driver who screamed “get a life!”, then by the car horn of a woman who removed one of her hands from her steering wheel long enough to offer a foul hand gesture to anyone who looked her way, and then by a few more rude comments yelled from another passing car.

Before I came to work for the Church nearly nine years ago, I understood the idea of “spiritual warfare” as something that existed, but not as something that took place on a daily basis for average people.  It was for saints who were tossed around the odd room, Satan relentlessly pursuing Christ in the desert, “good” vs. “bad” in the world, et cetera. In short, I had a very juvenile conception of spiritual warfare as it actually exists in the world.  After spending the last years in my work for the Church, I have a very deep, personal, adult understanding of spiritual warfare as something that not only exists, but as something that takes place every second of every day, from which none of us are spared, and as something that is often ignored. Spiritual warfare is real and we who are the members of the Body of Christ, as members of the one true Church He established on earth, are dead center in the sight of the Evil One at all times.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Several years ago, Raymond Cardinal Burke, when he was archbishop of St. Louis, told someone who had just professed disbelief in the existence of anti-Catholicism in this day and age, “Just because you don’t believe in it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” I was shocked that anyone who is Catholic and who was even slightly paying attention wouldn’t be aware of the spiritual warfare in which the Church and Her members are engaged.

If you are Catholic, people hate you. They hate you because you are Catholic.  One of my heroes, the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once said, “There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.” I don’t know that that is entirely true anymore.  I think that there are now many people who truly hate the Catholic Church simply for the fact that it is the Catholic Church.

Nowhere is this hatred seen more easily than what you can currently find on social media.

Twitter seems to have become the Mecca of atheists.  If you are on Twitter and openly Catholic, you are a target for a particularly hateful group of taunting, harassing, nasty atheists.  If you engage these atheists, you are treated as a pathetic, mindless, idiot sheep following the crusade-loving-stake-burning-woman-hating-pedophile-protecting-anti-gay-anti-jew-anti-freedom-bigoted herd that is the rest of the Catholic Church…or so they would say…and have…to me.

Beyond just spiritual warfare, physical warfare is taking place.  On the pages of Facebook over the last couple of weeks, images from bombed out areas of Egypt including Coptic churches, schools, convents, stories of those who have been killed, nuns who are being paraded through the streets like war criminals, and streets literally running red with the blood of these martyrs are everywhere. The country where the infant Lord himself sought refuge is now a place where Christians are being persecuted and killed.

So why are we hated?

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

There are many reasons the Catholic Church is hated and, to a certain degree, Archbishop Sheen was correct in his statement that much of the hatred is based on misconceptions and falsehoods.  I believe we are hated simply because we must be.

When Christ established our church, He knew what He was doing.  He knew what the Church would face.  He knew what Her followers would face.  He knew how her followers would respond.  We, the faithful, are in active opposition to all that the Evil One despises, or, at least, we should be.

Prayer, faithful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, public witness to our beliefs, frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, blessing our homes, blessing ourselves with Holy Water, Baptism of our infants—all of this drives the Devil insane and to seek our ruination.

All that the Catholic Church does on a daily basis, by every member of Her body, in every corner of the globe, every minute of the day is an attack against evil.

So, how does the Devil retaliate?  The thinly-veiled cracks about your faith by a friend or neighbor that are hidden in a “joke”; the stripping away of freedoms from unjust laws passed by your government; an obscene gesture from a woman as you prayerfully show your opposition to abortion; frustration from failing equipment before a video shoot about vocations; a phone call that goes just long enough for you to miss daily Mass; feeling embarrassed about praying before a meal in public.  And the list goes on.  The difference is in how we respond to these retaliations.

So how do we face this combat?

The things for which we Catholics are often made fun of for all serve a purpose—wearing a crucifix, using Holy Water, crossing yourself when you drive by a Church, writing the blessing on your house with blessed chalk, praying the Rosary, enrollment in a scapular, penance, fasting, abstinence—these are all ways to spiritually gird your loins.  We have gotten out of the habit of some of these practices, which is not only sad, but dangerous, quite frankly.

St. Padre Pio said, “In the face of such strong attacks by the enemies of the Church of God, are we to remain inactive?  Is that all we can do, complain and cry?  NO!  Every one of us has a holy obligation to build a trench and personally hurl back the assaults of the enemy.

What does that mean?  Are we not supposed to turn the other cheek, forgive those who trespass against us, love one another?  Yes, we are supposed to forgive and love our enemies; however, that does not mean that we do not come to the defense of the Church or our own souls.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to the defense of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, with regard to the sacrament of Confirmation: it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. (CCC 1303)

So, when the insults, the jabs, the infringements, and the humiliations come, what should we do?  We know what the Church expects us to do—spread the faith, defend the faith, and never be ashamed.  What would Satan like us to do?  He would love to see nothing more than for us to abandon our faith, mock our faith, let others mock our faith, and have us give in to his lies and empty promises. What do I, your poor, wretched blogger suggest, gentle reader?  I would offer the one thing we must do is pray—hard.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8)

Regardless of what contemporary culture would have you believe, the fact of the matter is that evil, Hell, and Satan exist.

Father Gabrielle Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican once said, “When I am asked how many demons there are, I answer with the words that the demon himself spoke through a demonic: ‘We are so many that, if we were visible, we would darken the sun’.”

We must be ever mindful of the fact that Satan exists and that he was brazen enough to engage in spiritual warfare with Christ—the Son of God.  He certainly, therefore, has no qualms about engaging us in this battle.

If we let our prayer life suffer, when we allow a mockery to be made of our faith, when we ourselves mock certain aspects of our faith, when we shrink back for fear of humiliation, we allow ourselves to lose the battles in this ongoing spiritual warfare.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 we are told: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;  besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

God is with us.  We needn’t be afraid, but we must be vigilant.  We have our spiritual armor: prayer, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confession…but armor must be worn to be effective.