Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Peter Kreeft: Who's in authority here?

The following comes from Peter Kreeft at The Integrated Catholic Life:
All the beliefs that divide Catholics from fundamentalists are derived from the teaching authority of the Church.
Because Catholics believe in the Church, they believe a fuller, more complex and mysterious set of things than the narrowed down fundamentalist. Thus, the Church is the essential point of divergence.
In the fundamentalist view, the Catholic Church exalts itself over the Bible, adding to God’s Word: It is man arrogating to himself the right to speak in God’s name.
But for Catholics, the fundamentalist puts the Bible in place of the Church as his “paper pope.” Instead of a living teacher (the Church) with a book (the Bible), the fundamentalist has only a book.
Fundamentalists believe that the Bible authorizes the Church. They accept a Church only because it’s in the Bible. Catholics, on the other hand, believe the Bible because the Church teaches it, canonized it (i.e., defined its books) and authored it (the disciples wrote the New Testament).
Last week we looked at the fundamentalist idea of the Bible and contrasted it with the Catholic view. Now we must do the same with fundamentalist notions of the Church.
The most important point here is that the fundamentalist view is a new one while the Catholic view is an old one. The Catholic Church and its claims have been around for more than 19 centuries, fundamentalism for less than one. The historical argument for the Catholic Church is thus very strong. Fundamentalists have to believe that the early Christian Church went very wrong (i.e., Catholic) very early, and went right (i.e., fundamentalist) very late. In other words, the Holy Spirit must have been asleep for 19 centuries in between.
Fundamentalists usually know very little about Church history. They don’t know how many Catholic doctrines can be traced back to the early Fathers of the Church — e.g., that appeals to the Bishop of Rome to definitively settle disputes throughout the rest of the Church occur as early as turn of the first Century; or that the Mass, not Bible preaching, was the central act of worship in all the earliest descriptions of the Christian community.
Five key differences between fundamentalists and Catholics center on the Church’s (1) nature, (2) mystery, (3) authority, (4) structure and (5) end.
Fundamentalists agree with Catholics that the Church was founded by God, not just by men. For a fundamentalist the Church is not just a religious social club, as it is for a modernist. But while fundamentalists see that God commanded the Church’s beginning, they do not see that He still dwells in it intimately, as a soul lives in its body and as He lives in faithful souls. For a fundamentalist, the Church’s origin is divine but its nature is human.
Fundamentalists see the Church in the opposite way from which they see the Bible. They affirm the divine identity of Scripture and minimize or ignore the human side of its authorship. But they stress the human side of the Church and ignore its divine side. In other words, they’re Docetists about the Bible and Arians about the Church. (Docetism was an early heresy that denied Christ’s human nature; Arianism denied His divine nature.) Catholicism alone has consistently affirmed the mystery of the two natures both of Christ, and of the Church and Bible.
Fundamentalists often accuse Catholics of the error of the Pharisees and love to quote Mark 7:7-8, Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees for teaching as divine doctrines mere human traditions. The Pope and bishops are men, after all, and fundamentalists bristle at the thought of ascribing to these humans a divine authority. But they’re inconsistent, for they ascribe to the human writers of the Bible a divine authority, and (of course) they ascribe to Christ a divine authority, though He was also human. So the principle that God can and does speak through human authorities is a principle based on Christ and Scripture.
Maybe the simplest way to see the difference is this: Fundamentalists see the Church as man’s gift (of worship) to God, while Catholics see it as God’s gift (of salvation) to man. For fundamentalists, we’re saved as individuals and then join in a kind of ecclesiastical chorus to sing our thanks back to God. For Catholics, we are saved precisely by being incorporated into the Church, Christ’s mystical Body, as Noah and his family were saved by being put into the ark. (Many of the Church Fathers use the ark as a symbol for the Church.)
It’s as if — to extend the metaphor — fundamentalists prefer to be saved by clinging to individual life preservers, then tying them together for fellowship.
To Catholics, the Church is “the mystical Body of Christ.” The Church is a “mystery.” Fundamentalists don’t understand this category. “Mystery” sounds suspiciously pagan to them. They want their religion to be clear and simple (as Moslems do). They’ll admit, of course, that God’s ways are not our ways and often appear mysterious to us. But they don’t want their Church to be mysterious, like God, because they don’t think of it as an extension of God but as an extension of man.
In other words, they think of “mystery” as mere darkness or puzzlement. But in Catholic theology it’s a positive thing: hidden light, hidden wisdom.
Fundamentalists say that they emphasize “the Church invisible” more than “the Church visible” and accuse Catholics of overemphasizing the latter. Fundamentalists draw a sharp distinction between these two dimensions of the Church so that they can explain Scripture’s strong statements about the Church as applying only to “the Church invisible” (the number of saved souls, known to God) and not to the visible Church on earth.
Why? Because if they referred such statements to the visible Church, the claims of the Catholic Church to be that single, worldwide, visible Church stretching back in history to Christ, still forgiving sins and exercising teaching authority in His name — well, these claims would surely seem more likely to be true of the Catholic Church than of any other visible Church.
Fundamentalists also have a very individualistic notion of the Church. The Catholic sense of a single great worldwide organism, a real thing, is not there. The Eastern Orthodox Church usually has an even more powerful sense of the mystery and splendor of the Church than most modern Western Catholics do. They’re east of Rome spiritually as well as geographically — i.e., more mystical. Fundamentalists are west of Rome — much too American.
A third difference concerns the authority of the Church. This follows from the previous point: Fundamentalists lack the Catholic vision of the Church as a great mystical entity, an invisible divine society present simultaneously in heaven and on earth, linking heaven and earth as closely as man’s soul and body are linked. And lacking this vision, authority can only mean power, especially political power. Thus, fundamentalists sometimes sound like their archenemies, the modernists, when it comes to criticizing the “authoritarianism” and political power of Rome. For both fundamentalists and modernists lack the Catholic understanding of the Church and its authority as much more than “political.”
Yet fundamentalists tend to be quite authoritarian themselves on a personal level — e.g., in their families. They are more willing than most people to both command and to obey authority, if it’s biblical. The issue that divides us is not authority as such but where it is to be found: Church or Bible only?
The structure of the Christian community also divides us. Fundamentalists usually criticize the “hierarchical” Church. This is often more a matter of politics than of religion, sometimes stemming from American egalitarianism rather than religious conviction. But when it is a matter of religious conviction, such criticism usually takes one of these three forms:
  • First, fundamentalists charge that Catholics worship the Church and the hierarchy, especially the Pope. There’s a fear of idolatry coupled with a fear of the papacy mixed up here, a confusion between sound principle (anti-idolatry) and a gross misunderstanding of facts. While I’ve met many Catholics who love the Pope and (unfortunately) some who hate him, I’ve never met or heard of anyone who worships him!
  • Second, the hierarchy is suspected of corruption just because it’s a hierarchy: It is structurally, culturally, un-American. (So is the hierarchy of angels “un-American.” But that doesn’t mean it’s corrupt.) Of course, 500 years ago there was some truth to this charge, but fundamentalists are still fighting Luther’s battle.
  • Third, there’s often an unadmitted racial prejudice against Italian Popes. Some people, when they hear “Italian,” immediately think “mafia” and “Machiavelli.” This element is rarely admitted, but it definitely plays a part in anti-papal prejudice.
Beyond these irrational criticisms, I’ve never come across any solid theological argument against the papacy. The current Pope (Blessed John Paul II as of the time of this essay – Editors) has done much to temper fundamentalist fears by his holy personality, wise words and strong opposition to abortion and to the excesses of some contemporary theologians.
Finally, fundamentalists and Catholics have different visions of the end or task of the Church. For fundamentalists, that task is only two things: edification of the saved and evangelization of the unsaved. For the Catholic, these two ends are essential, but there are also two others.
  • First, Catholics also emphasize the Church’s this-worldly tasks — social justice and the corporal works of mercy such as building hospitals and feeding the poor. Fundamentalists say the Church “shouldn’t get involved in politics” (though many of them are thoroughly politicized on the far right). And when did you last see a fundamentalist hospital.
  • Second, there’s a still more ultimate goal. Evangelization, edification and social service are ultimately only means to this greater end in the Catholic vision. The Church is there for the world, yes (the first three ends), but in a more ultimate sense the world is there for the Church, for her eternal glory and perfection.
The Church’s ultimate task is to glorify God, to be the Bride of Christ. The world is, in the long run, only the raw material out of which God makes the Church. In fact, the universe was created for the sake of the Church! God’s aim from Day One was to perfect His Bride, to share His glory eternally.
When we speak of this eternal glory we have in mind first of all the Church as invisible, as “mystical”; but there’s a substantial unity between the Church invisible and the Church visible, between the Church as inner organism and the Church as outer organization, between its soul and body, as there is between man’s soul and body.
You can see this mystical thing, as you can see a man. The most holy thing you can see on earth has its seat in Rome, its heart in bread and wine on the altar and its fingers as close as your neighbor.
It isn’t that fundamentalists explicitly deny this Catholic vision of the Church; they just don’t comprehend it. They may have things to teach us about being on fire with religious zeal, but we have much to teach them about the fireplace.
A fireplace without a fire is cold and gloomy. But a fire without a fireplace is catastrophic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Archbishop Chaput: Economic Justice and Pope Francis

The following comes from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. at Catholic Philly:
Speech at the Napa Institute, San Francisco, Calif.
July 26, 2014
I’m a Capuchin Franciscan, and I’ve often found that people think of Francis of Assisi as a kind of 13th-century flower child.  St. Francis was certainly “counter-cultural,” but only in his radical obedience to the Church, and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully — including poverty and all of its other uncomfortable demands. Jesus, speaking to him from the cross of San Damiano, said “Repair my house.”  I think Pope Francis believes God has called him to do that as pope, as God calls every pope.  And he plans to do it in the way St. Francis did it.
Pope Francis took the name of the saint of Christian simplicity and poverty. As he’s said, he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast.”  That’s a very Franciscan idea.
The Holy Father knows poverty and violence.  He knows the plague of corrupt politics and oppressive governments.  He’s seen the cruelty of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.  He’s seen elites who rig the political system in their favor and keep the poor in poverty. When we Americans think about economics, we think in terms of efficiency and production. When Francis thinks about economics, he thinks in terms of human suffering. We’re blessed to live in a rich, free, stable country.  We can’t always see what Francis sees.
I think it would be a mistake to describe him as a “liberal” — much less a “Marxist.”  As I told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview some weeks ago, words like “liberal” and “conservative” don’t describe Catholic belief.  They divide what shouldn’t be divided.  We should love the poor and love the unborn child.  Service to the oppressed and service to the family; defense of the weak and defense of the unborn child; belief in the value of business and belief in restraints on predatory business practices — all these things spring from the same Catholic commitment to human dignity. There’s nothing “progressive” about killing an unborn human child or allowing it to happen.  And there’s nothing “conservative” about ignoring the cries of the poor.
Before we go on, I should make a couple of obvious points about Francis. The first is that not everyone’s happy with him. G. K. Chesterton said that every age gets the saint it needs.  Not the saint people want, but the saint they need; the saint who’s the medicine for their illness. The same may be true of popes.
John Paul II revived the spirit of a Church that felt fractured, and even irrelevant, in the years after the council.  Benedict revived the mind of a Church that felt, even after John Paul II’s intellectual leadership, outgunned by the world in the public square. Francis has already started to revive the witness of a Church that, even after John Paul II’s and Benedict’s example, feels as if we can’t get a hearing and that we’re telling a story no one will believe.
Again, not everyone is pleased with Francis. Chesterton said that saints are so often martyrs because they’re the kind of antidote the world mistakes for poison. The website Salon recently ran an article complaining about the good press Francis has gotten.  It argued that “The new sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe is the same as the old sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe … . [I]t is ludicrous to suggest that a man who denies comprehensive reproductive health care (including all forms of birth control including condoms and abortion) and comprehensive family planning is a man who cares about the poor of this world.”
Some on the political right have attacked him in words almost as strong, though for different reasons.
What Francis says about economic justice may be hard for some of us to hear.  So we need to read the Holy Father’s writings for ourselves, without the filter of the mass mediaThen we need to open our hearts to what God is telling us through his words.

Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, Legend, Mystic, or Lord?

The following comes from Dr. Peter Kreeft at Strange Notions:

For Catholics, the doctrine of Christ's divinity is central, for it is like a skeleton key that opens all the other doctrines. Catholics have not independently reasoned out and tested each of the teachings of Christ received via the Bible and the Church, but believe them all on his authority. For if Christ is divine, He can be trusted to be infallible in everything He said, even hard things like exalting suffering and poverty, forbidding divorce, giving his Church the authority to teach and forgive sins in his name, warning about hell (very often and very seriously), instituting the scandalous sacrament of eating his flesh—we often forget how many "hard sayings" he taught!
When the first Christian apologists began to give a reason for their faith to unbelievers, this doctrine of Christ's divinity naturally came under attack, for it was almost as incredible to Gentiles as it was scandalous to Jews. That a man who was born out of a woman's womb and died on a cross, a man who got tired and hungry and angry and agitated and wept at his friend's tomb, that this man who got dirt under his fingernails should be God was, quite simply, the most astonishing, incredible, crazy-sounding idea that had ever entered the mind of man in all human history.
The argument the early apologists used to defend this apparently indefensible doctrine has become a classic one. C.S. Lewis used it often, e.g. in Mere Christianity, the book that convinced Chuck Colson (and thousands of others). I once spent half a book (Between Heaven and Hell) on this one argument alone. It is the most important argument in Christian apologetics, for once an unbeliever accepts the conclusion of this argument (that Christ is divine), everything else in the Faith follows, not only intellectually (Christ's teachings must all then be true) but also personally (if Christ is God, He is also your total Lord and Savior).
The argument, like all effective arguments, is extremely simple: Christ was either God or a bad man.
Unbelievers almost always say he was a good man, not a bad man; that he was a great moral teacher, a sage, a philosopher, a moralist, and a prophet—not a criminal, not a man who deserved to be crucified. But a good man is the one thing he could not possibly have been according to simple common sense and logic, for he claimed to be God. He said, "Before Abraham was, I Am", thus speaking the word no Jew dares to speak because it is God's own private name, spoken by God himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Jesus wanted everyone to believe that he was God. He wanted people to worship him. He claimed to forgive everyone's sins against everyone. (Who can do that but God, the One offended in every sin?)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Courage To Rejoice by Pope Benedict

The following comes from Celebrating the Year of Faith:
“The loss of joy does not make the world better—and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good.
“We have a new need for the primordial trust which ultimately faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good too. That it is good to live and be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people too can rejoice and receive good news.” 
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Salt of the Earthpp 36-37

The Call by Fr. Larry Richards

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron: The Attack on Christians in the Middle East

The following comes from Fr. Robert Barron at National Review:

Though you would never guess it from the paucity of coverage in the major news media, there is a fierce persecution of Christians going on in the Middle East. In Egypt, convents and churches are being burned to the ground and Copts, members of one of the most ancient Christian communities, are being routinely harassed, tortured, and arrested. In Iraq, the ISIS group, hoping to re-establish a “caliphate” across the northern sector of the Middle East, is brutally persecuting Christians. Just recently, an ultimatum was issued in Mosul, where Christians have been living for over 1,600 years, that believers in Jesus have to pay a stiff fine, leave the country, or be put to death. And the sheer shock of these extreme instances can allow us to overlook the fact that in Saudi Arabia Christians are not permitted to build churches or to practice their faith publicly in any way. 

Moreover, Muslim persecution of Christianity is not limited to the Middle East. Islamist radicals have been attacking Christians in Indonesia, India, and Philippines for quite some time. And perhaps the most extreme examples of this persecution are the attacks launched by the Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. This terrorist sect has burned churches, wantonly killed innocent Christians at worship, and most recently, kidnapped hundreds of Christian girls whose crime was attending school. 

It is easy enough to condemn these actions as deeply inhumane, but I would like to press the critique a bit further, drawing attention to the work of Pope Francis’s two immediate predecessors. Pope John Paul II was the most vocal defender of human rights in the 20th century. Across the world and in hundreds of different venues, he insisted that the respect for fundamental human rights must be the key to a just political order. And of all the human rights—to life, liberty, a just wage, access to the ballot—the most basic, he taught, was the right to religious freedom. This is because the spiritual aspiration of the human heart is what defines us as human beings. The violation of that most sacred of “spaces” is, therefore, the most offensive, the most heinous and de-humanizing. To use the threat of force to compel someone to change his religious beliefs—which we are regularly seeing in the Middle East—is not only criminal but wicked. 

It is also deeply irrational—a point made by Pope Benedict XVI in his address at the University of Regensburg in September of 2006. In that controversial speech, Pope Benedict drew attention to a little-known dialogue between the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Muslim interlocutor. The Emperor pointed out that the idea of spreading the faith through violent conquest, which is recommended in the Qur’an, is supremely irrational, and the reasons he gives anticipate John Paul II by six centuries. Faith is a function, not of the body, but of the soul, and therefore coercion through bodily persecution cannot even in principle awaken authentic faith. One must, instead, be skilled in arguments that would appeal to the mind: “to convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.” In a word, the idea of the holy war is not syn logon (according to the word or reason). And here is the decisive point: what is unreasonable is out of step with God’s own nature, since God, on the Christian reading, is identified with Logos: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   

However, in Muslim teaching, Allah’s nature is so transcendent that it goes beyond any and all categories, including that of reason. Pope Benedict cites the noted French Islamic scholar R. Arnaldez, who points out that Allah is not even bound by his own word, so that if he so chose, he could recommend idolatry as morally praiseworthy. This elevation of the divine will over the divine mind, called “voluntarism” in the West, is, for Benedict, the source of enormous confusion and mischief. Most notably and dangerously, it opens the door to the idea of divinely sanctioned violence. Now I fully realize that many Christians over the centuries have done terrible things in the name of God and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful and non-violent. But I think it is clear that when Christians act in such a way, they are unequivocally at odds with their own conception of God. Is the same true of Muslims? I am still waiting for a compelling answer from the Muslim camp to the question posed eight years ago by Pope Benedict. At the time, of course, Islamist radicals responded by killing a number of innocent Christians – certainly a curious way of refuting the notion that divinely sanctioned violence is irrational!

In the meantime, I believe that all people of good will ought to pray for both the victims and their persecutors, for the best way to honor God is through an act of compassion. The same God who is identified with Logos is, according to the first letter of John, also identified with Love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron on Intentional Discipleship

Monday, July 21, 2014

Calling Out Your Name by Rich Mullins

"N" is for Solidarity

The following comes from First Things:
Breitbart News reports Sebastian Gorka’s claim that last week the Islamic State in Mosul “painted the letter ‘N’ for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city.” ISIS, he says, “has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”

In the Breitbart interview Gorka decried the lack of media and government attention to what he called a holocaust of Christians in Iraq:

Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”

I have myself no direct knowledge of the situation, but like many others I have been following with great concern similar reports from that country (including this and this). I do not know what to do, by way of a public gesture, other than to place an ‘N’ over my own door as a sign of solidarity. Perhaps if enough of us did that it would help draw attention to our beleaguered brethren.

Saint of the day: Lawrence of Brindisi

The following comes from the site:

Caesare de Rossi was born at Brandisi, kingdom of Naples, on July 22nd. He was educated by the conventual Franciscans there and by his uncle at St. Mark's in Venice. When sixteen, he joined the Capuchins at Verona, taking the name Lawrence. He pursued his higher studies in theology, philosophy, the bible, Greek, Hebrew, and several other languages at the University of Padua. He was ordained and began to preach with great effect in Northern Italy. He became definitor general of his Order in Rome in 1596, a position he was to hold five times, was assigned to conversion work with Jews, and was sent to Germany, with Blessed Benedict of Urbino, to combat Lutheranism. They founded friaries at Prague, Vienna, and Gorizia, which were to develop into the provinces of Bohemia, Austria, and Styria. At the request of Emperor Rudolf II, Lawrence helped raise an army among the German rulers to fight against the Turks, who were threatening to conquer all of Hungary, became its chaplain, and was among the leaders in the Battle of Szekesfehevar in 1601; many attributed the ensuing victory to him. In 1602, he was elected Vicar General of the Capuchins but refused re-election in 1605. He was sent to Spain by the emperor to persuade Philip III to join the Catholic League, and while there, founded a Capuchin house in Madrid. He was then sent as papal nuncio to the court of Maximillian of Bavaria, served as peacemaker in several royal disputes, and in 1618, retired from worldly affairs to the friary at Caserta. He was recalled at the request of the rulers of Naples to go to Spain to intercede with King Philip for them against the Duke of Osuna, Spanish envoy to naples and convinced the King to recall the Duke to avert an uprising. The trip in the sweltering heat of summer exhausted him, and he died a few days after his meeting with the King at Lisbon on July 22nd. Lawrence wrote a commentary on Genesis and several treatises against Luther, but Lawrence's main writings are in the nine volumes of his sermons. He was canonized in 1881 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959. His feast day is July 21st.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scott Hahn: Of Wheat and Weeds

The following comes from Scott Hahn:

God is always teaching His people, we hear in today’s First Reading.
And what does He want us to know? That He has care for all of us, that though He is a God of justice, even those who defy and disbelieve Him may hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance.
This divine teaching continues in the three parables that Jesus tells in the Gospel today. Each describes the emergence of the kingdom of God from the seeds sown by His works and preaching. The kingdom’s growth is hidden - like the working of yeast in bread; it’s improbable, unexpected—as in the way the tall mustard tree grows from the smallest of seeds.
Again this week’s readings sound a note of questioning: Why does God permit the evil to grow alongside the good? Why does He permit some to reject the Word of His kingdom?
Because, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He is just, Jesus assures us - evildoers and those who cause others to sin will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of the age. But by His patience, God is teaching us—that above all He desires repentance, and the gathering of all nations to worship Him and to glorify His name.
Even though we don’t know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit will intercede for us, Paul promises in today’s Epistle. But first we must turn and call upon Him, we must commit ourselves to letting the good seed of His Word bear fruit in our lives.
So we should not be deceived or lose heart when we see weeds among the wheat, truth and holiness mixed with error, injustice and sin.
For now, He makes His sun rise on the good and the bad (see Matthew 5:45). But the harvest draws near. Let’s work that we might be numbered among the righteous children—who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crippled Young Man Cured in Medjugorje

andrea de luca medjugorje
The following comes from Medjugorje Today:

For three years, Andrea de Luca was suffering from perthes, confined to a wheelchair as his femoral head and hip were flaking. During Mass in Medjugorje, he felt a strong heat, and upon his return he heard a voice tell him to walk. Medical experts confirm a healing they cannot explain.

The doctors who were treating him, Dr. Anastasio Tricarico, a professor oforthopedics and traumatology at the University of Naples, and Dr. Pasquale Guida, an expert of orthopedics from Naples, testify to Andrea de Luca’s inexplicable healing. In Italian author/journalist Paolo Brosio’s new book, “Ray of Light”, they further present before and after x-rays showing the restoration of bones that had been broken and missing. 
Unbearable pain and a paralyzed life in a wheelchair are among the consequences of perthes, a rare disease that leads the femoral head and hip to flake. 21 years old Andrea de Luca from Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, lived this condition for three years until he was cured in Medjugorje.
Andrea de Luca's healing began with a garden statue of the Virgin Mary lighting up
Andrea’s healing began with a garden statue of the Virgin Mary lighting up
One daya young man greeted me‘Hello professor” while he was riding a bicycle. I could not believe it was Andreawhose disease I had followed for three years” Dr. Pasquale Guida told the Italian tv station RAI.
In September 2009 Andrea de Luca and his parents went to Medjugorje. It was the last hope they had for a cure. The first sign came one evening as he had gone into the garden of the place they were living.
“I could not sleepI went out into the yardmade the Sign of the Cross, and began to prayThen the head of Our Lady’s statue before me lit up. Although it was a beautiful light, one you cannot describe, I got scaredand went back inside. I invited my parents to come and seeWhen they arrived, two beams came out of the statue, one from the heart, the other from the leg” Andrea de Luca tells the Croatian daily 24 sata.
“Then one day, a nun told meTalk to JesusTalkTell Him to take away your disease.” The following day I went to Mass and prayed for the first time myselfI felt a heat in my entire back” says De Luca, 16 years old by the time.
Because of fear, he would not put his crutches away. That he only did when he returned to Italy.

He was silent in public for almost five years before he started telling what had happened to him.
“When we returned home, I waited with my crutches in order to get out of the bus. Then three times I heard a voice in my heart saying, You aremy apostleWalk and wear my light’From that moment ceased the very big pain that I had felt for three years” says Andrea de Luca.
I did not want to talk about it thenI was a childNow I am an adultand the doctors have confirmed that a miracle happened in my case” he says.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A look at a typical day for Pope Francis

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chastity: What are you saying YES to?

The following comes fro

Chastity is a virtue that each baptized person is called to live no matter what his or her vocation.  Chastity is more about what you are doing than about what you aren’t doing. It is SO MUCH MORE than merely abstaining from sex and remaining a “technical virgin.” Chastity is actually at the heart of a good marriage. So if chastity is lived even after marriage, then it has to be more than just saying NO to sex.

Chastity defined: Chastity is a virtue that directs all our sexual desires, emotions, and attractions toward the dignity of the person and the real meaning of love.

That means that all of our sexual desires, emotions, and attractions to others are supposed to be at the service of the dignity of the other person and the real meaning of love—not at the service of what we want! Chastity is a deep respect and admiration for the person AND for the gifts of our sexuality and sex. As John Paul II puts it, chastity is the readiness to affirm and love the person in every situation. You know what you are saying no to by living chastity, but what are you saying YES to?


1. Chastity is saying YES to AUTHENTIC real love.

Sex does not equal love, and love does not equal sex. Love is not just a happy feeling or something that comes and goes. Love is a deep desire to do what is good for another. It involves sacrifice. Think of the love Christ has for you—a love that led Him to lay down His life on the cross. When compared to this kind of love, do you really want to date or marry somebody who rests his or her entire idea of a good relationship on mere feelings?

2. Chastity is saying YES to you.

Chastity says, “I believe that I am worth waiting for. I am a unique unrepeatable person who has a unique unrepeatable gift to offer.” By living chastity, you are saying YES to your own dignity and honoring the person God made you to be.

3. Chastity is saying YES to the person.

To every person you meet—especially those of the opposite sex—chastity says, “I will not put you in a position where I may use or hurt you. I will respect who you are, including your body. I will govern my eyes and thoughts so that they honor you.” Since sex is “saying your wedding vows with your body instead of your voice,”2 a commitment to chastity is a promise to never tell a lie with your body.

4. Chastity is saying YES to the “it is very good” kind of sex.

The Catholic Church says sex is SO great and SO good that when you take it out of marriage you cheapen it. You reduce it, and it’s no longer something great. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply; then He looked at His creation and said “It is very good.” Adam and Eve were the first married couple. The “it is very good” kind of sex happens within marriage, where there is a life-long commitment and a total giving and receiving of each other. Having “meaningless” sex with different people now—even if you love them—is going to make it difficult once you’re married to express your TOTAL and UNCONDITIONAL love through this same act that once meant something less to you. The question is: What do you want?

5. Chastity is saying YES to your future spouse.

Whether you are called to marriage, the priesthood, or religious life, by living chastity, you are preparing yourself for your future vocation by loving even when it’s not easy or doesn’t feel good. You are being faithful to your spouse (whether a man or woman, the Church, or Christ Himself) now. Can you imagine a more powerful and beautiful gift to present to God and your spouse on your wedding day? How awesome it would be to look him or her in the eyes and say, “I have prepared myself for you!” There is no way you will regret giving this gift to God and your future spouse! If you have made mistakes in the past, go to confession and open yourself to the HEALING power of God and His MERCY, and begin living chastity from this very moment.

6. Chastity is saying YES to a great future.

Popular opinion would have you believe that your life will be perfect after you begin having sex, but the stats show just the opposite. Chaste teens avoid unintended pregnancy and STDs (many of which are incurable and cause infertility). They are also less likely to be depressed and commit suicide,3 have a marriage that ends in divorce, experience poverty, have an abortion,4 and use contraception. Oral contraceptives (estrogen and progestin combination) lead to an increased risk of several kinds of cancer.5 A woman’s risk for breast cancer increases by 44% when the Pill is taken prior to her first pregnancy.6 Don’t mess with your future and the happiness the Lord longs for you to enjoy!

7. Chastity is saying YES to God.

God is the Author of romance. He intended it from the beginning. God’s plans are not shallow and mediocre. They are GREAT! He has set the bar high because He wants what is truly best for us and knows the deepest desires of our hearts. Chastity says YES to the fullness of God’s plans for you. Give your life to Christ and live daily for Him; you will have more adventure than you know what to do with!

Practical Things You Can Do to Start Living Chastity NOW

1. PRAY!!

Mother Teresa said “Purity is the fruit of prayer.” Chastity cannot be lived by one’s own strength, but requires the help of Christ and the graces He gives through the Sacraments. Pick a saint—St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Maria Goretti, St. Philomena, and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati are some suggestions—and ask them to pray for you specifically in the area of purity. Pray for strength to always do what’s right, for your future vocation and spouse, and for all people to know the joy that comes from living a chaste life for the Lord.

2. Start loving now.

Chastity isn’t about waiting to love; it’s about authentically loving NOW. Find ways to renounce your will and sacrifice for the good of others. Act in such a way that all you do reflects your own dignity and helps others to realize their true worth as well. Learn to give of yourself and receive the gift of others.

3. Be yourself.

Never change who you are or water down your beliefs and moral convictions in hopes that others will like you more. You will be respected for your authenticity, and people will know where you stand by the example of your life. Find friends who will encourage you in living a chaste life rather than pressuring you to conform to the world’s standards.

4. Practice self-discipline.

Challenge yourself in the little things: not hitting the snooze button, skipping dessert, avoiding gossip, etc. By renouncing yourself in the little things, you are training yourself to renounce yourself in the big things. Then, when temptation comes your way, you’ll be ready. Be faithful to your commitments; set goals and stick with them.

5. Control your thoughts and imagination.

Once you go to a place mentally, it is easier to go there in reality. Some of what we hear and watch in the media sabotages our longings for real love by training us to use people. If you have romance novels, pornography, explicit songs, or anything else that tempts you, trash them. It might be hard, but you will experience the freedom that comes from rejecting sin and addiction, and Satan will no longer have these tools to use against you.

6. Think about how you advertise yourself.

The things you do and say, your friends, the way you dress, etc., all tell the world something about you. Dress in a way that accents your beauty rather than just your body. Modesty is about respecting yourself and helping your brothers and sisters in Christ to live chastity as well. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “No one ever becomes truly beautiful until he stops trying to make himself beautiful, and begins making himself good. Mary was not ‘full of grace’ because she was beautiful; she was beautiful because she was full of grace.”

7. Be alert!

Don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. Be aware of your surroundings (watch your drink!), and keep full possession of the capacity to think clearly, which is so compromised by drugs and alcohol.

8. Know Yourself.

It’s not just about saying NO when you’re in a bad situation, but about avoiding these situations to begin with. If certain situations, things, or people are a source of temptation to you, have the wisdom and strength to stay away. If you are ever in a situation where you may be tempted beyond your strength, 1) speak up, 2) stand up, and 3) walk out.

9. Have a reminder.

Wear a chastity ring/necklace or say a certain special prayer daily. Do something that reminds you of your commitment to true love.

10. Group date.

Go out with a guy/girl in a group of people. It will be more fun, and you will get to see how this person interacts with your friends. Be up-front and honest so he or she knows that chastity is essential in your relationship. If your date doesn’t respect your choice to live chastely, what else won’t they respect?