Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Christian Medical and Dental Society's Legal Challenge To The Professional Obligations and Human Rights Policy

If you have been following my blog of late, you may recall my posts on the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) policy, Professional Obligations and Human RightsToday's post is an update on this policy and specifically focusses on the legal challenge brought forth by the Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS).

For those who are not aware of the controversy surrounding this anti-life policy, it infringes upon the rights of physicians and surgeons to freely treat patients according to their conscience, religious and moral beliefs. The fact that the CPSO seeks to impose "effective referrals" (lines 156-161 of the policy) upon physicians and surgeons spotlights one of the problems with this policy; that it attempts to provide solutions to nonexistent problems. Add to this, the policy's violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and today's post increasingly becomes a matter of grave concern.

The video published with this blog post is the CMDS press conference held on March 24, announcing the legal challenge during which they took the opportunity to explain their many concerns. I encourage anyone who cares about the future of the medical profession and the value and inviolability of human life to watch and share this video.

In early March of this year the CPSO Council approved the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy. It was a rather hastily approved document considering that it came only two weeks after the closure of the CPSO's external consultation process; one that encouraged public feedback with an on line survey, discussion forum, email and regular mail. The overwhelming majority of the respondents' submissions at the discussion forum urged the CPSO to respect physicians' freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Sadly, that feedback seems to have been completely ignored. So overwhelming was the disapproval that two members of the CPSO Council recommended the vote on this policy be delayed in an effort to consider and analyze the submissions. It was a recommendation discarded by the council, who fourteen days after the external consultation deadline of February 20, voted and passed the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy.

The CPSO's approval has disappointed many individuals and groups in Ontario, whose shared concerns with the CMDS, has prompted some to join the legal challenge, forming a group of "applicants," who filed a Notice of Application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In addition to the CMDS, this group is comprised of: the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPS), Dr. Michelle Korvemaker, Dr. Betty-Ann Story, Dr. Isabel Nunes, Dr. Agnes Tanguay, and Dr. Donato Gugliotta.

According to the Notice of Application the applicants are seeking an interim and permanent injunction prohibiting the CPSO's enforcement of the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy. Noteworthy are several declarations in which the applicants assert that the CPSO: is subject to and bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; that the CPSO can not implement and enforce policies which violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; that the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy does in fact violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to freedom of religion, conscience, equal treatment and benefit under the law of the individual applicants and other physicians. There are other items in the application that I will leave to the visitor at my blog the option of further reading at the CMDS's web site. It is abundantly clear that the CPSO has not only contributed to Canada's moral disorder with its effort to entrench a "culture of death" in the medical profession, but has made a legal mistake in the process.

In addition to the policy's violation of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone freedom from state interference or compulsion with regard to their freedom of conscience and religion, this application commenced as a result of the CPSO's refusal to address the concerns of the applicants. Both the CMDS and the CFCPS submitted detailed and thorough submissions to the CPSO on how the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy would result in the violation of the Charter rights to freedom of religion and conscience for physicians; to no avail. The CPSO has ignored their concerns and continues to do so.

The remainder of this post details much of what was expressed at the press conference including segments from the question period. I have made an effort to provide this as an accommodation to those who may not have thirty minutes so readily available for the video. The information below is noteworthy and I hope it will prompt you to eventually watch the video for further details.

Statements by CMDS Executive Director Larry Worthen and Drs. Diane Haak and Michelle Korvemaker
The CMDS press conference was led by Larry Worthen, Executive Director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society. Joining him were three other panel members: Dr. Diane Haak, President of CMDS Canada; Dr. Michelle Korvemaker, a family physician from Woodstock, Ontario and board member of the CMDS; and the applicants' legal representative, Albertos Polizogopoulosa partner with the law firm Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP/s.r.l. in Ottawa.

Larry Worthen
Worthen began the conference by stating that although the CMDS supports much of what is included in the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy, there are certain aspects that are cause for grave concern. He made it very clear that none of the CMDS members seek to any way discriminate against patients; that they have dedicated their lives to the well being of patients. However, many physicians have conscious objections to participating in certain procedures or prescribing certain pharmaceuticals.

Worthen expanded upon the basis for these objections by stating that, "these objections are well reasoned and considered, firmly held and based on objective standards, like the Christian scriptures, Catechism of The Catholic Church and the traditional Hippocratic Oath. These standards are held by many people over time." Elaborating further, he stated that conscience objections come from a variety of sources including: the Christian, Jewish, Islamic faiths and even followers of secular creeds such as Humanism; all of whom may have objections to performing or participating in certain procedures.

Traditionally, conscience concern has always been respected in medicine. The CPSO's new policy changes that completely. In essence this policy forces doctors to refer patients to other doctors against their conscience. In addition, the policy requires that physicians actually provide certain procedures in an emergency to prevent imminent harm. There is much concern about the broad interpretation of the word "emergency," that it might completely erode conscience protection. 

As to the referral aspect of the policy, Worthen addressed why some have asked, "why is referral a problem?" His response to this was as follows, "The doctor who has conscientious objections considers the referral to mean they are facilitating a procedure that is contrary to their conscience. They perceive themselves to be aiding and abetting or an accomplice to an action that they know is morally wrong." He goes on to spotlight the paradoxical nature of the policy with respect to Canada's restriction on extraditing offenders to countries where capital punishment exists. So strong is Canada's objection to the death penalty, yet the CPSO's policy sets forth guidelines that potentially achieve the same immoral end; the death of a human being, be it while developing in the womb or in response to old age or ill health.

Particularly noteworthy was the part where Worthen explained how the changes in the policy are solutions to nonexistent problems. For example, the "need" to address conscientious objections. It is a need that simply does not exist because when it comes to certain procedures and pharmaceuticals, most doctors already inform their patients of their conscientious objections when they enter the practice.

Further clarifying the referral aspect of the policy, Worthen explained that in Ontario there is no requirement for doctors to refer patients for procedures such as an abortion, simply because patients can self refer. Elaborating on this, he provided an example that when a patient is confronted with an unwanted pregnancy, most doctors will discuss options and inform patients not only of their conscientious objections, but of the availability of self referral. Even after the occurrence of an abortion, the patient physician relationship is not ruptured at all; patients typically return to their physician for continued care. In keeping with the applicants' desire to serve their patients, Worthen explained that even though doctors have conscientious objections to certain procedures such as abortion, they in no way condemn patients for obtaining them; they are still willing and continue to be caring physicians for each individual patient. 

Doctor Diane Haak

Doctor Haak began her segment of the press conference by introducing herself as a family physician and president of CMDS Canada, representing approximately seventeen hundred kind and caring physicians who provide exemplary care to their patients. She then began to identify and elaborate on several significant concerns.

The first concern was with respect to the harm that this policy will cause most importantly to patients, but also doctors who serve them. Specifically, she mentioned how some doctors may feel compelled to leave their practice due to the policy's infringement upon freedom of conscience and the forced referral inclusion. 

Second, there is the physical, psychological and spiritual health of doctors to consider. Here is what Dr. Haak stated about this point, "Being forced to practice medicine in a way that conflicts with one's conscience creates an inner tension that is morally wounding, and can lead to physician burn out." 

Third, Doctor Haak also made it known that the Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy is contrary to Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone to be free from state interference or compulsion with regard to their freedom of conscience and religion.

Fourth, she spotlighted the CPSO's continued rejection of public feedback; rejection that dated back to the college's external consultation on the previous policy, Physicians and The Ontario Human Rights Code. She clearly stated how the college ignored the results of that external consultation; results in which the overwhelmingly majority of respondents disapproved of the policy. Here is what she had to say about this:
The CPSO conducted a survey prior to adopting this policy asking the public whether a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physicians religious or moral beliefs. More than thirty two thousand people responded with seventy seven percent in favour of physicians being allowed to continue to practice in accordance with their consciences. The CPSO also received sixteen thousand submissions, the overwhelming majority argued for physicians conscience rights. It puzzles me and concerns me then that the college could have passed a policy with clauses that take away this freedom.

Doctor Michelle Korvemaker
Doctor Korvemaker is a family physician from Woodstock, Ontario who works in the emergency department and in palliative care. She also works in Wingham, Ontario in the emergency department and fills in for doctors who are on leave. She stated that in the ten years of her practice, she always had the freedom practice medicine according to her conscience. 

Particular noteworthy was her mention and reference to the Canadian Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethicswhich requires doctors to inform patients when they don't perform certain procedures or prescribe medication for ethical or moral reasons. The fact that such a code of ethics exists further spotlights the CPSO's effort to provide solutions to nonexistent problems. Citing the example of an abortion, Dr. Korvemaker reiterated what Larry Worthen stated, that when CMDS doctors are confronted by patients with an unwanted pregnancy, doctors typically discuss the options and make it clear that they can not refer for abortion, but patients do have the option of self referral.

The CPSO's policy would force doctors to engage in and facilitate an abortion, which as Dr. Korvemaker stated would be against her conscience and religious beliefs. She raised particular concerns over the recent Supreme Court of Canada Carter vs. Canada euthanasia decision, in light of the CPSO's policy. As a palliative care physician, she could be faced with "physician assisted death," which the newly approved policy would require her to be involved in and facilitate such a procedure. She stated quite clearly that under such circumstances, her conscience and religious beliefs would preclude her from engaging in procedures to which she has a moral, ethical and religious objection. 

Doctor Korvemaker reinforced the point that she and all doctors in Ontario have the right to practice medicine according to their consciences free from state compulsion. Based on this right, the CMDS has launched this challenge.

Question Period 
As a courtesy to all who attended the press conference, the CMDS had provided copies of the legal application and invited Albertos Polizogopoulos to address any legal questions. Below are details of several of the questions that were presented to the panel.

Government Funded Care And Accessibility In Small Towns 
I was particularly concerned with two questions. The first was rather general, but it was followed up by a more specific question that immediately spotlighted the moral disorder in Canada. Here is the first part of the question, "Some people might say that because doctors are funded by the government, by the state, they should therefore provide services that are available or that are offered by the government or the state." Larry Worthen responded by saying that the state should be impartial and not impose its values on individuals.

The follow up question specifically addressed the concern regarding the so called "need" for women to access abortion in small towns in Canada, where such "care" may not be so readily available due to physicians' conscientious objections to provide or procure such a procedure. Worthen stated that with such a scenario, patients are able to self refer in seeking an abortion. Albertos then interjected to point out that the concern for the potential lack of availability for an abortion is a false one because such a scenario does not currently exist; nor has it ever been a problem.

It was a disturbing question to listen to in that it was stated in such a nonchalant manner. The fact that such a question could be asked in public without absolutely no regard for the life of a developing human being in the womb, is a telling sign of deep moral crisis in Canada.

The CPSO's Sudden Change In Policy
When asked about the CPSO's sudden change in policy, Worthen provided a brief background to the CPSO's policy development. It was interesting to discover that the Human Rights Commission approached the CPSO and informed them that from their perspective, the human rights code applied to physician behaviour. The CPSO was "told" that their policy needs to be adjusted accordingly.

The CMDS did not express any concern with respect to the human rights code because its members have not and do not want to discriminate against patients; it has never been a problem with any of its members. The CPSO policy goes beyond the issue of discrimination and attacks the freedom of conscience. This is completely unacceptable because such freedoms are protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 2008, there was some thought given by the CPSO to remove conscience rights with respect to referral and decided to defer that. It was in 2014 during the CPSO's regular policy review cycle that they decided to challenge the freedom of conscience with reference to referrals.

The Definition Of Emergency
The CMDS was asked to elaborate on their concerns regarding an "emergency" specifically within the context of a life threatening situation. The inclusion of an emergency clause or "urgent care" is located in the Protecting Patient Safety section at the last page of the policy (lines 166-169). Worthen explained that it is a concern in that an "emergency" is difficult to define. In life threatening situations, CMDS members would certainly assist patients, but the concern is with respect to the lack of specificity as to what exactly constitutes an emergency; whose definition would it reflect. 

Euthanasia is a prime example of how the issue of emergency becomes a very realistic concern. Given the recent Carter vs. Canada euthanasia decision, some members of the CMDS who are in palliative care might be placed into scenarios where requests for euthanasia are made under so called "emergency" situations. Worthen provided the example of a patient that has already requested euthanasia yet to be performed, who at some point becomes agitated and requests it immediately. Would such an agitated state be considered an "emergency?"

The concern by CMDS members is so great that some are seriously considering leaving palliative care. Worthen clearly spotlighted how unnecessary it was for the CPSO to have included such a clause that attempts to provide a solution to a nonexistent problem.

The Problem With Referrals
A question was asked regarding the issue of referral and why would it be a problem. The scenario presented was one in which an individual with back pain was referred to another physician. In so doing, the original physician would not be implicated in what ever treatment was given at the referral; therefore, why would there be any issue regarding referral?

Worthen stated very clearly, that the foundation of such a statement is completely flawed simply because there is no conflict between doctors and patients. He went on to further point out that there is absolutely no reason why freedom of conscience and access to "care" can not both exist. In agreement with such a statement is the Canadian Medical Association, the Ontario Medical Association, and the American Medical Association.

In addition, he pointed out that there is no jurisdiction in the world that requires physicians to refer for "care" such as euthanasia. So it begs the questions, why does the CPSO claim that "effective referral" is essential and somehow patients' access to services will be affected. From the CMDS's perspective, this is a complete dichotomy. 

He went on further to state that in a tolerant country like Canada, the way to go about resolving issues is through dialogue. The failure to do so regarding this policy is not from a lack of effort on the part of the CMDS. It is a point that Worthen spotlighted with the fact that the CMDS made repeated attempts to enter into discussions with the CPSO, all of which were met with rejection. He concluded this point by stating that the CPSO is trampling on the conscience rights of physicians, who are trying to do their best in providing health care for patients.

Healing Patients

Segueing from his last point, Worthen made it very clear that the CMDS members became doctors to help people. Here is what he stated: 
Our members got into medicine because they were convinced they could help people; that they could help heal them, that they could serve them and meet their needs. They did not get into the practice of medicine participating in procedures that they know are going to harm human life. That is not healing, that's not healing to refer somebody for euthanasia. It is not healing to refer someone for abortion. That is actually hurting people. 
Worthen went on to elaborate that for the government to ask its members to participate in the providing or procuring of anti-life procedures, would constitute a facilitation of these procedures. This would be an inappropriate imposition by the government and the CPSO. Conscience is an attribute of a Christian physician. 

It was shortly after this point that the press conference was concluded. 

What You Can Do To Help

There are many ways you can help this legal challenge. I hope every reader of this post will seriously consider doing so because the matter is grave and we need to support, encourage and stand in solidarity with our doctors. These men and women of Ontario have placed their education, training and experience at the service of life and now, with the CPSO's policy, they are being asked to do a total reversal should it be thrust upon them by their patients' requests. This is totally unacceptable.

As was noted in my initial post, Professional Obligations and Human Rights - An Anti-Life Policy From Ontario's College Of Physicians And Surgeons, the fundamental problem with the CPSO's anti-life policy is that if fails to recognize the sacredness of human life, as well as the basic human right for doctors to refuse to take part in committing an injustice. I hope this fact alone will encourage everyone to take action and help in any way that you can. Below are my recommendations:
  1. First and foremost, recognize the threat for what it is, a spiritual attack on God's plan for humanity. Abortion, euthanasia, contraception and every other threat to the value and inviolability of human life comes from the Evil One. Fight the good fight on a spiritual level; that is let prayer and fasting be at the root of all your efforts. Include in your intentions those who you intend to communicate to and come into contact with regarding this controversy. You may also be interested in reading the CMDS's prayer document.
  2. Second, you may want to consider a donation to help with the legal costs. Should you decide to do this, you can do so at the CMDS web site.
  3. Third, get informed. Bookmark the CMDS web site; add their blog to your reading list.  
  4. Fourth, spread the word on your social media networks. Let others know of this very important controversy in the medical profession. Share this blog post with others.
  5. Fifth, email everyone on your contacts list with a well written and thorough email that will be sure to inspire others into action.
  6. Sixth, contact the CMDS and express your support for the legal challenge.

The controversy surrounding the CPSO's Professional Obligations and Human Rights is an extremely serious one. It spotlights how the "culture of death," ushered into Canada in a very identifiable way with abortion in 1969, by the passing of the infamous Omnibus Bill, has negatively impacted the formation of conscience for many people in the medical profession.

I hope this blog post has instilled in you a sense of urgency with which all concerned citizens of Ontario need to become informed and active on this controversy and help restore Ontario and Canada to a "culture of life." 

May Saint Gianna Beretta Molla intercede for the success of this legal challenge.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Medjugorje's Risen Christ Statue

Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue

With the approach of Easter next week, I thought it fitting today to post about Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue. If you are new to Medjugorje or have never heard of this statue, it is a thirty foot solid bronze statue located in the area adjacent to the back altar of Saint James Church. It draws many people to it and the line ups are long, sometimes taking over two hours for pilgrims to finally get the statue. If you are planning to go to Medjugorje, on route or already there as of this post, I recommend you include a visit to the Risen Christ statue as part of your pilgrimage itinerary. You can find it by walking down the interlocking stone path flanked by Medjugorje's Luminous Mysteries Mosaics.

In addition to the beautiful sculpture there is something else about this statue that draws pilgrims to it each day; the unexplained and miraculous seeping of water near Christ's right knee. Droplets of water ooze out through a pinhole from the statue every few seconds, everyday, all day long and throughout the night. Pilgrims patiently line up during all hours of the day and night, in the sunshine or the rain and during the colder months as well, all done in an effort to get their turn to see and experience this phenomenon.

You might be asking yourself, what exactly does this phenomenon represent? From a faith perspective, one can only conclude that it is a daily miracle. It is clearly impossible for water to constantly ooze out from a solid bronze statue. Science could easily substantiate this, but more importantly, the focus should be placed on why God has given this miracle to Medjugorje. 

Some see this as a much needed sign from Heaven, drawing further attention to the apparitions of Medjugorje. For others who are somewhat skeptical, this is tangible proof of something special happening in Medjugorje. Perhaps this is God's way of converting the "doubting Thomas" pilgrim who needs to see and touch for himself/herself something miraculous; that with such an experience will come the realization that there is something profound and unexplainable going on in Medjugorje. In my view the Risen Christ statue's daily miracle is God's way of making His presence known; and in part, validating the apparitions in the process.

Two of my fellow pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, Medjugorje June'2014. 

Yet for others, the phenomenon at the Risen Christ statue could also be a consolation from God to pilgrims who have already been given the gift of faith and fully believe in the apparitions of Medjugorje. The experience of seeing and touching the water becomes a faith strengthening moment; an affirmation of their belief in the apparitions. What comes to mind in writing about this is a well known quote from the Spanish saint, Saint Teresa of Avila who stated, "Seek not the consolations of God, but the God of consolations." What does this mean for pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue? Simply put, absorb the moment, let the experience be a faith strengthening time, try not to become too overwhelmed by it and most importantly, pray to God and Our Lady to help you understand the significance and purpose for your pilgrimage and faith journey.

You might have noticed from the photo above, that some pilgrims bring a bag with them to the statue. They do this because they want their respective items to come into contact with the seeping water. As to what pilgrims actually bring, linen hand cloths are the most common items. In addition pilgrims bring Rosaries, prayer cards, photos of loved ones, necklaces and just about anything else that is to be worn or carried around on a daily basis. Many pilgrims bring items with the intention of giving them to loved ones and friends. It is not uncommon for pilgrims to bring several of the aforementioned items; remaining at the statue for at least fifteen minutes. Time at the Risen Christ statue is one of patience and understanding.

Linen hand cloths available in Medjugorje for the Risen Christ statue

To accommodate pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, several Medjugorje shops sell linen hand cloths. The photo above is one of many that I purchased in Medjugorje. The dimension of the cloths are approximately five square inches; folded to a quarter of that size they easily fit into a prayer book, wallet or purse. You may want to consider purchasing several of your own, wipe the water from the statue and give them away as a present to family and friends. 

Visiting the Risen Christ statue once is not a guarantee that you will not desire to visit it again before your departure. This is something that I experienced and it was shared by many of my fellow pilgrims. One pilgrim's story in particular comes to mind. The pilgrim is the gentleman in the previous photo, Alan, wearing the crimson shirt and beige shorts. I only had the privilege of journeying with him for three days, but we made the most of it, especially on the last night. The third day was totally his. As a courtesy, I expressed that he did not have to feel obligated to negotiate the day with me, but perhaps he should spend it alone and then come nightfall, we could reconnect and spend the night in prayer. It was an offer well received and accepted.

Night descended and one of the last items for Alan's pilgrimage itinerary was to revisit the Risen Christ statue. Alan had purchased several hand cloths and other religious items he wanted to put into contact with the water. So we visited the Risen Christ statue and it became abundantly clear from the exceptionally long line up that waiting to get his turn would consume much of his last remaining precious hours in Medjugorje. We decided it was best to get something to eat and then recite the Rosary at the Original Blue Cross. Our plan was to return to the Risen Christ at 2:00am and that is exactly what we did. Much to our surprise, there was still quite a long line up, but no where near what it was previously. 

In the early hours of the morning, the Risen Christ statue is quite a tranquil and peaceful place: the intense heat of the day has dissipated, there is no chatter from pilgrims, and the back altar of St. James is silent. Just the quietness of the early morning hours and the refreshing cooler air. Alan was in line and it looked from the line's movement that it would be approximately forty minutes before Alan had his chance again. In consideration of other pilgrims, I decided it was best to sit on one of the perimeter benches that surround the statue and patiently wait it out.

Eventually, Alan got his turn and the opportunity to spend as much time as he wanted to at the statue. Although neither of us expressed this in any way, it was abundantly clear to both of us that going to the Risen Christ statue was a beautiful gift for Alan's last night in Medjugorje. He was at total peace and he remained that way for the rest of the night. We returned to the Original Blue Crosses for further prayer and eventually headed back to our pension. Before Alan's taxi arrived, I said my "goodbyes" and wished him a safe return home.

If you do plan to go Medjugorje, the Risen Christ statue is certainly one of the many locations you will want to visit; it will be time well spent.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Father Slavko Barbarić's Book "Pray With The Heart" - An Introduction To An Ideal Prayer Manual For Medjugorje Pilgrims

If you are planning a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, on route or presently there as of this post, I would like to recommend Father Slavko Barbarić's book, Pray With The Heart. It is a book that was specifically written for pilgrims while in Medjugorje. Whether you are by yourself, with a few friends or part a group during your pilgrimage, Pray With The Heart is an ideal prayer manual. I have partly based my recommendation on my own pilgrimage experience while in Medjugorje. This book proved to be a much needed prayer companion that greatly enhanced my prayer time and helped me to encounter the Holy Trinity and Our lady anew. This book is available in Medjugorje at the Franciscan Book Store, which is next to the Information Center and Pošta (Post Office).

Prayer is essential in our daily lives and even more so during a pilgrimage. Father Slavko noted that all pilgrims in Medjugorje are called to prayer in the morning and the evening, to individual and common prayer, but to prayer with the heart as well. To pray with the heart requires time. As Fr. Slavko stated, every prayer can be recited quickly without having met Jesus and Mary. This runs the risk of not only wasting time, but of never coming to like prayer; therefore, it is necessary to find time for prayer in order to pray with the heart.

Father Slavko's book is not about prayer, but is itself a prayer. It does not deal with how it should be prayed, but "is prayed as every Christian believer should pray - from heart to heart, from soul to soul, and from the painful cry of a miserable man to the merciful response of the God-man." (5) To pray with this book will greatly assist each pilgrim to enter into the spirit of prayer and enrich the pilgrimage experience. 

To give you an idea of how rich this "prayer manual" is, here are some of the prayers it includes: prayers to prepare for Mass and thanksgiving prayers after Mass; a thorough examination of conscience and prayers before confession; Stations of The Cross for the climb up Križevac (Cross Mountain); the Rosary while ascending up Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill), and while at the Blue Crosses; prayers for fast days; prayers while in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Holy Cross; healing prayers; prayers to the Holy Spirit; a consecration prayer to Our Lady; and morning and evening prayers that help pilgrims begin and end their days with peace, hope and in the love of the Father and Our Blessed Mother. A common thread running throughout all the prayers is Our Lady's messages, urging each pilgrim to devote himself/herself to God through the Virgin Mary. 

Father Slavko provided the perfect pilgrimage guidelines upon arrival in Medjugorje. In the chapter, The Places of Prayer in Medjugorje, he stated that whether you come alone or in a group, when you arrive in Medjugorje, go to St. James Church and pray, and pay homage to Jesus. Father Slavko stressed that this is the "first step you can take in Medjugorje, to pray in the church and to meet Jesus like the shepherds in Bethlehem did." (13) He encouraged each pilgrim to open their heart completely. He also stated that a good pilgrimage beginning should also include confession. In addition, he noted that it is essential to take part in Mass and gives thanks afterwards.

At the peak of Cross Mountain (Križevac)

From St. James Church, Fr. Slavko recommended that pilgrims head for Križevac. Regardless if you are alone or within a group setting, strive to pray immediately as you leave the church. The walk from the church to and up Križevac will be like the road from Bethlehem to Calvary. Upon arrival at Križevac, the Stations of the Cross awaits you. Take your time to unite yourself to Jesus, which this book's Stations of the Cross prayers will be in great aid of. At the top, regardless of the weather conditions, Fr. Slavko encouraged everyone to:
Take courage. Pray your fullest under the Cross. Cry your heart out because of your sins. Open your heart before the Cross and you will know what it means. In this booklet you will also find a prayer of adoration before the Cross. Pray. Never mind the time. Whoever perseveres under the Cross, can go further, receive new assignments and have new experiences. (14)
Father Slavko noted that the view from the top of Križevac opens wide in all directions, especially toward Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill). He encouraged pilgrims to climb it as well and to open their hearts again. He recommended that pilgrims repeat the climbs to both locations, as with each new climb there is a new experience. 

Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja)

For those of you who do not know Father Slavko Barbarić, he is a legend in the Medjugorje community, and one of Medjugorje's most beloved Franciscan friars. He began working with pilgrims in Medjugorje in 1982, conducting numerous spiritual exercises and provided many talks about Medjugorje all over the world. His written contributions include many articles for different publications as well as books on the spirituality of Medjugorje, translated in more than twenty languages and sold in the millions. Father Slavko died on November 24, 2000 on Križevac after having completed the Way of The Cross with parishioners. On Križevac, there is a commemorative boulder and plaque marking the spot of his passing. To view this location, please visit my other post, An Introduction To Father Slavko Barbarić's Book - In The School of Love

May Our Lady Queen of Peace, clear the way for your pilgrimage to and guide you in Medjugorje.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Queen Of Peace - The Medjugorje Documentary

If you have been thinking about a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and wondering what to expect, today's post is definitely for you. The Queen of Peace documentary is one of "the" resources that thoroughly explains the pilgrimage experience. Whether you have been called to go to Medjugorje by Our Lady or you just want to know more about these apparitions, I highly recommend this documentary. The Queen of Peace was filmed and edited by Christina Georgotas of Bambiina Productions and is available for purchase on line at In the words of Wayne Weibleone of Medjugorje's most well known pilgrims and author on the subject matter, the Queen of Peace is a "must see documentary." 

This documentary is for all who have been called by Our Lady to make the pilgrimage: those diagnosed with cancer or some other serious sickness; those discerning a vocation; those in need of emotional, physical and spiritual healing; those who are facing a crisis; searching souls; skeptics; agnostics; and those who need to "recharge their spiritual battery," and strengthen their faith.

The Queen of Peace documentary captures so much of what each pilgrim can look forward to each day in Medjugorje, most of which is a frequent reoccurrence and forms part of a daily retreat: praying at Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), climbing Cross Mountain (Križevac), the Blue Crosses, the Daily Prayer Program that includes morning Mass in English, confessions available every evening prior to and during the International Mass, Rosary recitation, adoration, Veneration of the Cross and healing prayers. In addition, you may be afforded an opportunity to attend a private audience with one of the visionaries, attend Vicka's talk to pilgrims at the Saint Pope John Paul II orphanage or be apart of a private apparition with one of the visionaries. No matter what your purpose will be in Medjugorje, once there, the common thread that runs through the respective journeys of all pilgrims is the lived experience of receiving the many graces that have been bestowed upon Medjugorje. It won't be long before the words of Saint Pope John Paul II are felt and understood, "Medjugorje is the spiritual center of the world."

Chapter One The Introduction: The Most Important Event Occurring In The World
The Introduction is partly a testimonial by Wayne Weible, one of Medjugorje's most widely known and respected pilgrims. It is fitting that Wayne Weible introduce the Queen of Peace, since he too was first introduced to Medjugorje by a film. It was a film that began his own conversion process to Catholicism and life long work for Our Lady. Wayne shares the initial conversion experience as the documentary takes the viewer on a historical and cultural tour of Medjugorje. Wayne ends his introduction with one of the most important things to remember and understand about Medjugorje, "Medjugorje is the culmination of all apparitions, Fatima, Lourdes, of all time; this is a continuation and fulfillment of Fatima. More than thirty years now she will be appearing here, having come almost everyday. This is the most important event occurring in the world."

Chapter Two Mirjana and Ivanka: The First Days of the Apparitions and The Early Years in Yugoslavia
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to experience a private audience with a visionary, this documentary will not disappoint. This chapter begins with a private audience talk by the visionary Mirjana Soldo to pilgrims at her pension. Additionally, there is footage of Ivanka Elez, the first of the visionaries to see Our Lady on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), speaking to pilgrims at a general audience talk at the back altar of St. James Church. The use of a spilt screen allows the viewer to obtain a visual of where the events occurred as Ivanka describes those initial moments of the first apparition. The documentary goes back and forth between Mirjana and Ivanka as they both describe that initial encounter with Our Lady, their interaction with each other and the other four visionaries on June 24, 1981.

In addition to Mirjana and Ivanka, the viewer is introduced to the other four visionaries: Marija Lunetti, Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic and Vicka Mijatovic. The viewer gets an opportunity to see the visionaries when they were quite young and what Medjugorje looked like over thirty years ago. 

You might be wondering what Our Lady looks like during the apparitions. All six visionaries have given a description of Her physical appearance. Here is the description given by the visionaries: Our Lady has dark hair, blue eyes, a long grey dress with a white veil; she stands on a small cloud and around her head there is a crown of twelve stars. Our Lady has introduced herself as the Blessed Mother, The Queen of Peace.

One of the most important aspects underlying these apparitions is included in this documentary; that is, although we are living in a time of grace, Our Lady has stated that tribulations are to come. The viewer is also introduced to the ten secrets that Our Lady has given to the visionaries, one of which includes a permanent visible and indestructible sign on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), the location of Our Lady's first apparition.

Chapter Three: Medical Testing Performed on the Visionaries
If you are somewhat intrigued by the initial photo display of the trailer, this chapter will surely satisfy that intrigue. That photo is of the visionary Ivanka, prepared with scientific apparatus, prior to an apparition for the purpose of running tests while the actual apparition occurred. These and other types of medical, psychological and scientific tests were frequent occurrences and have made the Medjugorje apparitions the most widely tested apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church. 

Leading this chapter on the discussion of the apparition tests is Daniel Klimek, a scholar and journalist who explains that the extensive testing has made Medjugorje important both on, " academic, intellectual level; and it distinguishes Medjugorje from former Marian apparitions." Klimek has written a detailed article on the testing performed on the visionaries which can be read at Mystic The details of Klimek's article will certainly help remove any skepticism that anyone may have had regarding these apparitions. At a very minimum, no one will be able to put forth a compelling argument that the apparitions are false or fraudulent.

Klimek explains how several international medical teams from France, Italy, Canada, England, United States, Germany and Austria went to Medjugorje, some of whom for the purpose to discredit the apparitions. All efforts have proven to be unsuccessful. Citing several tests that have used very advanced technologies, Klimek states that the tests verified the visionaries were not experiencing an epilepsy, sleep or dream state or hallucinations. Another test he cited was one that measured pain. The visionaries responded properly to minor pain at sensitive parts of the body, whereas when they were experiencing the apparitions, they did not respond at all. Polygraph tests have also been conducted against possible deception and fraud; none of the visionaries failed any of their tests.

Klimek concludes this segment with the statement that scientists have been baffled by the tests and have realized that the visionaries have been experiencing profound ecstatic states that scientists do not understand.

Chapter Four: Messages of the Queen of Peace
This chapter begins with the visionary Marija at a very young age, providing the viewer with an introduction to the apparitions. The chapter then captures two orientations in progress: one on a coach bus coming from the respective airport location driving into Medjugorje and the other, in Medjugorje outside of St. James Church. When travelling with pilgrimage companies to Medjugorje, orientations as shown in this chapter are a standard include for pilgrims.

At one of these orientations, the guide explains how the third apparition, which is marked by a wooden cross on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukanzanja), Our Lady communicated Her first message to Marija on Friday, June 26, 1981,  "Peace, Peace, Peace! Be reconciled! Only Peace. Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession." The chapter continues with selected messages from Our Lady over the years. I do not think that enough can be said with respect to the importance of Our Lady's messages and this chapter certainly stresses that. If you have yet to discover and read the messages, a web site dedicated to Medjugorje provides the complete list from 1981 to present day. Please visit's Our Lady's Messages.

Chapters Five To Twelve
This documentary is so rich in its content that to provide details on each would require several blog posts. To give you an idea of what awaits those who purchase this DVD, here is a list of what the other chapters include:

  • Chapter Five - Tim Haley's Testimony: A Conversion Story
  • Chapter Six - Alberto Moreno's Testimony: God's Love
  • Chapter Seven - Miraculous Physical Healings
  • Chapter Eight - Artie Boyle's Testimony: Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Chapter Nine - The Beauty of Our Lady
  • Chapter Ten - Mirjana's Monthly Apparition
  • Chapter Eleven - The Secrets
  • Chapter Twelve - Medjugorje Through the Years: Are you Listening?

Chapter Thirteen: Wrap-Up The Continuation and Fulfillment of Fatima
The concluded six minutes contains some of the most important information regarding what Medjugorje is all about. Below are some of the details included in this final chapter:
  • Mirjana Soldo - The documentary films her at her pension where she explains that Our Lady is the mother of all of us. When Our Lady addresses the visionaries, it is not specific to any one individual. Rather Our Lady always addresses the visionaries as "Dear Children," which is to be understand as an address to the entire world.
  • Medjugorje Guide "Miki" - He explains the message of hope for the world. He states, "Let us pray for our families, let us pray for our children because there is hope; with prayers and fasting, you can achieve anything; even wars can be stopped." 
  • Vicka Mijatovic - A particularly interesting segment where Vicka talks about Our Lady's messages first, as a young woman in Croatian during a film interview, and then many years later in Italian during her usual general audience at the Saint Pope John Paul II orphanage. 
  • Artie Boyle - He explains Our Lady's "little stones," Her five main messages: Pray with the heart, the Rosary everyday; Eucharist; Holy Bible; Fasting; Monthly Confession
  • Wayne Weible - He appeals to young people, that they need to know that God is very real. Drawing from his own personal conversion experience, he explains that at some point in the lives of young people, there is going to be that moment, just as it came to Wayne, where they are going to realize God is real. Their hearts will be opened and only then will they be able to discern and understand what is going in Medjugorje. He reiterates how Medjugorje is the most important event occurring in the world; that Medjugorje is the culmination of all other Marian apparitions, the continuation and fulfillment of Fatima. Reinforcing this point the documentary shows a segment from Mirjana's interview in which she quotes Our Lady, "What I started in Fatima, I will finish in Medjugorje, my heart will triumph."
I can tell you from my own experience, that prior to going to Medjugorje, I had watched this documentary and it proved to be pivotal in helping me to understand Medjugorje and anticipate what to expect during my pilgrimage. This documentary is an encouragement for all those who have been called by Our Lady and perfectly captures why Medjugorje is hope for the world.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mystici Corporis Christi - Pope Pius XII's Encyclical On The Doctrine Of The Mystical Body Of Christ

Pope Pius XII in 1924. His papacy was from 1939-1958.

Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi was issued on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, 1943. It is a document that explains the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. It is an invitation to all who are drawn to it by the Holy Spirit to study it; to receive the truths contained within it; and to act upon this knowledge and understanding with the performance of good works. Pope Pius XII deemed it fitting to develop and explain this doctrine with the hope that the entire flock of Christ would, "...draw certain lessons that will make a deeper study of this mystery bear yet richer fruits of perfection and holiness." (11)

If you are new to Church doctrine, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is a doctrine. Doctrine is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, "a set of beliefs or principles held and taught by a religious, political, or other group." With specific reference to the Catholic Church, here is what the Catechism of The Catholic Church states about doctrine and the constitutive element of charity:
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. (25)
Thirty six pages printed, there is much one could include in writing about this encyclical, but for the sake of brevity, today's post focuses on some of the fundamental aspects of this doctrine: the origins of this doctrine; certain aspects of the Mystical Body; why the body in fact is mystical; errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of this doctrine; and the participation of each member to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ.

Pope Pius XII explanation on the origin of this doctrine begins at paragraph twelve, with the fall of Adam and the gift of Christ. God created Adam in such an exalted state that he was to hand on to his posterity the heavenly life of divine grace. After Adam's fall, the entire human race was "infected with a hereditary stain," in which it lost its participation in the divine nature. God's love for the world brought with it the gift of His only begotten Son. Christ's crucifixion not only appeased the justice of the Father, but had obtained for all mankind an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Christ to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church, that all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of redemption. It is significant to note that the establishment of the Mystical Body was willed by Christ, so that the sacred work of redemption would endure and continue throughout the centuries, in part due to the direct participation of His Body.

Pope Pius XII also noted that the establishment of the Mystical Body by Christ, had been reinforced by the teaching of Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. He cited Saint Paul's letter to the the Colossians, "Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church," (14) as well as Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Satis Cognitum, who asserted that the "Church is visible because she is a body." (14) 

Further on in the encyclical, Pope Pius XII identified who is included in the Body. The Body consists of the clergy and the laity: those who are of Holy Orders; cloistered in monasteries living a contemplative life; others who are active and living in the world in their apostolates; those in the state of matrimony, single laity and members of lay Catholic groups. He elaborated further on this when he stated:
...only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit. (22)
Pope Pius XII clarified that the Mystical Body of Christ is made up of holy individuals, saints and sinners as well. He noted that not every sin, grave as it may be, will sever man from the Mystical Body of Christ. He stated that if members of the Body have lost charity and divine grace through sin, they may not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope; spurred by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to prayer and penance for their sins. Such is not the case with much more serious matters such as schism, heresy or apostasy. 

Christ has provided for His Mystical Body by endowing it with the Sacraments. In so doing, as Pope Pius XII noted, He provided it with an uninterrupted series of graces to sustain it from birth to death, including generous provisions for the social needs of the Church. In particular, Pope Pius XII spotlighted the great importance of the correct religious education of children, in which he stated that without the "Mystical Body would be in grave danger." (20)

Continuing with his explanation of the Body, Pope Pius XII stated that, "Because Christ the Head holds such an eminent position, one must not think that he does not require the help of the Body." (44) Important to note that what ever need our Divine Redeemer has of us, ultimately we must remember His words, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 5:15) We, the Body, must always be cognizant of the fact that all advancement "...of this Mystical Body towards its perfection derives from Christ the Head." (44) 

Pope Pius XII stated very clearly, "Christ has need of His members." (44) As to the specifics why Christ needs His members, he elaborated on this point when he stated that Jesus is represented by the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn must call upon others to share in the solicitude of souls, lest he become overwhelmed by the demands of his pastoral office. Pope Pius XII also stressed that our Saviour does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, but instead He wills to be helped by the members of his Body, carrying out the work of redemption. The reason for this; Christ willed to be helped by his Body for the "greater glory of His spotless Spouse." (44) Pope Pius XII continued with this explanation when he stated that when Christ died on the Cross, He left the Church with the immense treasury of Redemption. Come time to distribute the graces, not only does Christ share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it would be due to her action. Pope Pius XII referred to this as a deep mystery: 
...that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His associates. (44)
As to why the Body of Christ should be called Mystical, Pope Pius XII began his explanation at paragraph sixty. So there may be no misunderstanding of what mystical means, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "having a spiritual significance that goes beyond human understanding." Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary,  definition of the Church's mystical component is as follows, "The Church is called Mystical because she is a mystery, which God revealed to be true but whose inner essence must be accepted on faith and without full comprehension by the mind." Here is the introduction to the mystical aspect of the Body from Pope Pius XII:
And now, Venerable Brethren, We come to that part of Our explanation in which We desire to make clear why the Body of Christ, which is the Church, should be called mystical. This name, which is used by many early writers, has the sanction of numerous Pontifical documents. There are several reasons why it should be used; for by it we may distinguish the Body of the Church, which is a Society whose Head and Ruler is Christ, from His physical Body, which, born of the Virgin Mother of God, now sits at the right hand of the Father and is hidden under the Eucharistic veils; and, that which is of greater importance in view of modern errors, this name enables us to distinguish it from any other body, whether in the physical or the moral order. (60)
To further clarify the Mystical aspect of the Body, Pope Pius XII compared the Mystical Body to that of a natural body. He stated that in a natural body, "...the principle of unity unites the parts in such a manner that each lacks in its own individual subsistence; on the contrary, in the Mystical Body the mutual union, though intrinsic, links the members by a bond which leaves to each the complete enjoyment of his own personality." (61) He explained further that the different members of the physical body are destined to the good of the whole alone; while the Mystical Body with its many moral associations are directed to the advancement of all and each individual member. He then pointed out the fact that Jesus established the Body and enriched it with the Holy Spirit; for it exists "...for the good of the faithful and for the glory of God and of Jesus Christ whom He sent." (61)

A further comparison was made between a mystical and moral body. Pope Pius XII noted the difference between the two is not slight, but rather considerable and very important. Here is what he stated:
In the moral body the principle of union is nothing else than the common end, and the common cooperation of all under the authority of society for the attainment of that end; whereas in the Mystical Body of which We are speaking, this collaboration is supplemented by another internal principle, which exists effectively in the whole and in each of its parts, and whose excellence is such that of itself it is vastly superior to whatever bonds of union may be found in a physical or moral body. (62)
Pope Pius XII continued to explain that the Church, as a perfect society, is not merely made up of moral and juridical elements and principles; it is far superior to all other human societies. It is superior to all human societies because it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all that can perish. The Church is not found within a natural order, rather the juridical principles upon which the Church rests and is established derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ. Our Redeemer continues to penetrate and fill every part of the Church's being; He is active within until the end of time as the source of every grace, gift and miraculous power.

With respect to the many errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of some aspects of this doctrine, Pope Pius XII included many paragraphs (85-90). Of particular note is the error of "quietism." The error of quietism is one that assumes that the whole spiritual life of Christians and their progress is exclusively the result of the actions of the Holy Spirit; while neglecting the collaboration that is due of each member of the Body. No one should deny the inspirations and role of the Holy Spirit in the Church with each member, but at the same, each member should as Pope Pius XII stated, "...advance eagerly in grace and virtue, that they should strive earnestly to reach the heights of Christian perfection and at the same time to the best of their power should stimulate others to attain the same goal..." (87) He explained that the Holy Spirit will not effect all this unless members of the Body contribute daily with their share of zealous activity. 

Another error that Pope Pius XII warned about is the assertion by some who have given little importance to the frequent confession of venial sins. He explained that although venial sins are forgiven and expiated at daily Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation provides for more rapid progress in virtue. Here is what he stated on the encouragement of frequent confession:
...We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior... (88)
Participation of each member to strengthen and build up the The Mystical Body of Christ, is specifically mentioned and encouraged at paragraph ninety eight. Pope Pius XII began this paragraph with the love that Christ has for His Body; a love that is to be reciprocated by its members. Of particular note, Pope Pius XII mentioned the Italian Catholic lay group, Catholic Action, which spotlighted the importance of the laity's role in the Body. Pope Pius XII pointed out that as Jesus laboured unceasingly to establish and strengthen the Church, that all of its members should endeavour to do likewise. This encyclical was issued during the middle of World War II, which Pope Pius XII referred to as the "present circumstances," the significance of which he spotlighted by stressing how important it was for everyone to realize the urgent necessity of their energetic zeal in working for the Body

Further aspects of each member's participation in the strengthening and building up of the Body, is included at paragraph one hundred and six. Pope Pius XII stated that we should pray for the Lord to send labourers into His harvest and that our daily prayer should be united in praying to the Lord for all members of the Mystical Body of Christ. He elaborated as to how we can effectively work for the Body; drawing God's graces upon it in the process:
For although our Savior's cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God's inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God's hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, "we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church." (106)
In publishing this post today, it is my hope that an increasing number of Catholics will read and study this encyclical and; thus, come to a better understanding of the Body, that is the Church. May it encourage many to strive with a firm resolution to sincerely work to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ. In so doing, may each one of us be cognizant of each member's role and dignity, to which we have been called by our Head, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. 

May Our Lady Queen of Peace intercede for us.