Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Unborn

Our Lady of Guadalupe's image on St. Juan Diego's tilma
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
on St. Juan Diego's tilma
Today's feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an especially important one for millions of Catholics in the Americas and around the world who pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the protection of human life, especially for developing human beings in the womb: the unborn children who are faced with the danger of abortion.

The pregnant aspect of Our Lady's image on Saint Juan Diego's tilma (cactus cloth) has made Our Lady of Guadalupe a symbol for the plight of the unborn. It is a constant reminder of God's mercy and Divine Intervention in the world, and Our Lady's continued work for the salvation of souls that includes exposing the deception of the Evil One and his demons.

It is for that very purpose that Our Lady has appeared in so many places throughout the centuries: to eradicate pagan worship, debauchery, New Age and occult practices, and all other types of evil, and in the process has been, and continues to be, our light to Christ, showing us the path to Jesus.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was revealed in 1531, when St. Juan Diego unfolded his tilma (full of flowers) in front the local bishop and as the flowers fell to the floor, the exquisitely detailed painting of Our Lady was seen by all present. 

Our Lady's image also draws our attention to its supernatural power and the fact that it caused the conversion of eight million Aztecs and other indigenous people in less than ten years, in the area that is known today as Mexico

Saint Juan Diego was himself converted to the Catholic faith some time between 1524-1525, and was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries.

Praying for conversions is an important aspect in the fight against abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, contraception, in vitro fertilization, the death penalty, and all other threats to the value and inviolability of human life. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the powerful intercessor that we have recourse to in the fight against the Culture of Death.

It is important to remember that the fight to protect the unborn is primarily a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons, of which the Holy Mass and group recitation of the Rosary—the two most powerful forms of prayer—are essential weapons in the spiritual arsenal to fight the good fight.

In addition to the Mass, Rosary, and your own personal prayers, you may want to consider the following selected prayers taken from Michael Brown's Marian devotional book, Seven Days With Mary, in which he dedicates one of the seven days to Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Prayer of John Paul II
Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children. We beg you grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth. Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. (47)
Morning Offering
Immaculate Heart of Mary, heart of my mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, I unite to thy purity, thy sanctity, thy zeal, and thy love, all my thoughts, words, acts, and suffering this day, that there may be nothing in me that does not become through thee a pleasure to Jesus, a gain for souls, and an act of reparation for the offenses against thy heart. (49)
Closing Prayer
Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your apparitions on Mount Tepeyac you promised to show pity and compassion to all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and protection.
Accordingly, listen now to our supplications and grant us consolation and relief. We are full of hope that, relying on your help, nothing can trouble or affect us. As you have remained with us through your admirable image, so now obtain for us the graces we need. Amen. (51)  
So important is Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Americas that in 1945, Pope Pius XII decreed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be “Patroness of all the Americas,” and today in Mexico, it is a Holy Day of Obligation.

In more recent times during his pastoral visit to Mexico, Saint John Paul II, in his homily at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City on Saturday, January 23, 1999, entrusted the future of the continent and the Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary, imploring the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe to, "Save the nations and peoples of this continent. Teach everyone, political leaders and citizens, to live in true freedom and to act according to the requirements of justice and respect for human rights, so that peace may thus be established once and for all. (9)

Saint John Paul II, who was well known as a staunch defender of human life, stated during that homily, “...[T]he Church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death.” (8)

It was in 1995, only four years prior to that homily, that St. John Paul II released his encyclical on the Gospel of Life, Evangelium Vitae; an essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Church's teaching on the value and inviolability of human life, and the many threats to it. For those who are somewhat new to the life of St. John Paul II, here is an excerpt from Evangelium Vitae that captures the richness of this encyclical and his commitment to the protection of the unborn:
"Your eyes beheld my unformed substance" (Ps 139:16): the unspeakable crime of abortion 
Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an "unspeakable crime".
But today, in many people's consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as "interruption of pregnancy", which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth. (58)
If we look to the human sacrifices of St. Juan Diego's time (1500s) and our modern times, we can easily draw a parallel between the demonic worship during the Aztec era with that of today's abortions: the mass murder of innocent human beings in the womb performed in hospitals, "health care centers," "women's care clinics," and so-called "family-planning facilities" such as Planned Parenthood.

The Aztecs offered human sacrifices as part of their worship to two chief Aztec gods (demons), Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipocawhich, of which the most popular was the brutal ritual performed on top of Aztec pyramids. The Our Lady of Guadalupe web site at sancta.org details this:
Perhaps the most popular of the public rituals was taking the victims to the tops of the Aztec pyramids where they were laid on top of a flat stone. There, the priests cut open their chests and their hearts were ripped out. The bodies were then thrown down the steps of the pyramid.
After the bodies tumbled down the stairs, the priests removed the limbs, cooked and ate them. Specially hands and thighs were considered the best delicacies. The heads were placed in skull racks for public exhibition.
The atrocities committed in our modern times against human life, as during the Aztec era, are inspired and influenced by the demonic. Just as the Aztecs intentionally offered their human sacrifices to their gods (demons), so too are people today intentionally performing abortions as part of a blood sacrifice and offering to Satan.

Here in Canada, where abortion is available on demand, we are in great need of God's Divine Intervention and Our Lady of Guadalupe's intercession to eradicate abortion and all other threats to human life (euthanasia and assisted suicide, contraception, in vitro fertilization) from the landscape.

Sadly, Canada is a country whose political leaders have failed the nation by consistently rejecting God’s plan for humanity, and in the process ignored Canada’s Christian heritage, history, and identity. This failure dates back to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the infamous 1969 Omnibus Bill that ushered in "therapeutic abortions" performed in hospitals, which eventually paved the way for Dr. Henry Morgantaler's 1988 constitutional challenge that resulted in abortion being made available on demand across the nation.

Our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau (supposedly a Catholic like his father Pierre Elliot Trudeau) has stated on more than one occasion that anyone seeking to join the Liberal Party of Canada must support abortion. This fact alone is a telling sign of the ongoing moral crisis in Canada that seems to be increasing with each new generation.

God's Holy Law clearly states in the Fifth Commandment, "You Shall Not Kill." The Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates on this Commandment, "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." (2258)

None of this has meant anything to Canada's prime ministers since Pierre Elliot Trudeau; the result of which has seen a growing moral disorder in Canada and with it the establishment of a Culture of Death.

I respectfully urge my fellow Canadians to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the protection of the unborn, and for God's Divine Intervention, that the moral disorder that has taken root over the past five decades may be eradicated from the land and that Canada be restored to a Culture of Life.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Dies Domini on Keeping the Lord's Day Holy

Saint Pope John Paul II in Krakow, Poland, September 13, 1991
Saint John Paul II in Krakow, Poland, September 13, 1991. Photo: Grzegorz Gałązka via TotusTuus 2010 Calendar, Postulation of the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II.

Coming off a fresh reading of Dies DominiSaint John Paul II's apostolic letter on keeping the Lord's Day holy, I thought if fitting to publish today's post on what I consider to be an essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Lord's Day.

Released on May 31, 1998, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, Dies Domini, was written in part to support the pastoral efforts of bishops around the world, and for the laity as a continuation of St. John Paul II's "lively exchange" with the faithful, inviting the laity to rediscover the full meaning of Sunday with a new intensity in the changing circumstances of the times and the "new situations" that had arisen from them.

Spotlighting the changing socio-economic conditions and the profound modifications in social behaviour St. John Paul II stressed the need to distinguish between the special character of the Lord's Day from the more widespread "custom of the weekend."

Although St. John Paul II acknowledged that there are positive aspects of the weekend's cultural, political, and sporting activities, he encouraged the disciples of Christ to, "...[A]void any confusion between the celebration of Sunday, which should truly be a way of keeping the Lord's Day holy, and the 'weekend', understood as a time of simple rest and relaxation." (4)

Drawing from the First Letter of Peter (1 Pt 3:15), St. John Paul II noted that avoiding such confusion will require a "genuine spiritual maturity" allowing Christians to, "...'[B]e what they are' in full accordance with the gift of faith, always ready to give an account of the hope which is in them." (4)

Another new situation that St. John Paul II spotlighted was the strikingly low attendance at the Sunday liturgy, which he attributed to sociological pressures, weakened faith, and the lack of priests in both mission countries and countries evangelized long ago.

Recognizing that some young Churches have illustrated how fervently Sunday can be celebrated, St. John Paul II presented what he believed to be the main causes for decreasing Mass attendance on the Lord's Day, "In the minds of many of the faithful, not only the sense of the centrality of the Eucharist but even the sense of the duty to give thanks to the Lord and to pray to him with others in the community of the Church, seems to be diminishing." (5)

Given these situations and the questions they have prompted, it was St. John Paul II's belief that there was an ever increasing necessity to recover the deep doctrinal foundations underlying the Church's precepts, so that the, "...[A]biding value of Sunday in the Christian life will be clear to all the faithful." (6)

It is through Dies Domini that St. John Paul II sought to do just that, identifying and elaborating on the many aspects of the Lord's Day and the duty to keep Sunday holy: the importance to remember God's creative work for six days, that He rested on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy; the sacred value to rest in the Lord; keeping the Lord's Day holy by means of prayer, works of charity, and abstention from work; the Sunday obligation to attend Mass as stipulated in the Code of Cannon Law; and how the Lord's Day is a day of joy and solidarity.

Amongst the many different aspects of Dies Domini, one that stood out in my mind was—perhaps one of the most salient aspects considering the increasing secular landscape of so many Christian countries—the fact that keeping the Lord's Day holy is a Commandment, the Third Commandment to be precise which can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work."

Referring to the Third Commandment in the first chapter under the subheading, "God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3) , Saint John Paul II emphasized that the Lord's Day was so important for God's plan that it was included the Ten Commandments. Adding to this, he wrote the Lord's Day is a "...[D]efining and indelible expression of our relationship with God," and it is from this perspective that "...Christians need to rediscover the Sabbath precept today." (13)

Stressing how important that relationship is with God, Saint John Paul II wrote further in the same section, "...But man's relationship with God also demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of the person. 'The Lord's Day' is the day of this relationship par excellence when men and women raise their song to God and become the voice of all creation." (15)

It is worth mentioning that St. John Paul II dedicated the importance and sacredness of rest in sections 64-68 under the subheading, The Day of Rest. It is an especially important aspect for the Christian fulfillment to keep the Lord's Day holy. To get a sense of the richness of Dies Domini, here are a few excerpts from those respective sections:
...rest is something 'sacred', because it is man's way of withdrawing from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew his awareness that everything is the work of God. There is a risk that the prodigious power over creation which God gives to man can lead him to forget that God is the Creator upon whom everything depends. It is all the more urgent to recognize this dependence in our own time, when science and technology have so incredibly increased the power which man exercises through his work. (65)
In our own historical context there remains the obligation to ensure that everyone can enjoy the freedom, rest and relaxation which human dignity requires, together with the associated religious, family, cultural and interpersonal needs which are difficult to meet if there is no guarantee of at least one day of the week on which people can both rest and celebrate. (66)
Through Sunday rest, daily concerns and tasks can find their proper perspective: the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full.
Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy. In any case, they are obliged in conscience to arrange their Sunday rest in a way which allows them to take part in the Eucharist, refraining from work and activities which are incompatible with the sanctification of the Lord's Day, with its characteristic joy and necessary rest for spirit and body. (67)
In order that rest may not degenerate into emptiness or boredom, it must offer spiritual enrichment, greater freedom, opportunities for contemplation and fraternal communion. Therefore, among the forms of culture and entertainment which society offers, the faithful should choose those which are most in keeping with a life lived in obedience to the precepts of the Gospel. (68)
During his inaugural homily in October 1978, Saint John Paul II encouraged the Church and the world, "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!" In Dies Domini, he renews that encouragement specifically with respect to the rediscovery of Sunday, "...Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction." (7)

The rediscovery of the Lord's Day is a grace that one should pray for, which St. John Paul II specifically noted in the introduction:
The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human. (7)
This latest reading of Dies Domini proved to be just as intriguing when I first read it in May 2002. Given the growing secularism in Canada and so many other Christian countries around the world, this apostolic letter is even more relevant today.

May your reading of Dies Domini strengthen your resolve to "rest and remember" on the Lord's Day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ireland's Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith

Coastline along the Slea Head Peninsula, the westernmost part of the Dingle Peninsula, located in the barony of Corca Dhuibhne in southwest County Kerry, Ireland. Photo: Pam Brophy/[CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday, November 26, at 9:30am (2:30pm local time in Ireland), I will be uniting my recitation of the Rosary to the faithful Catholics in Ireland participating in the Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith: a national prayer effort that will encircle Ireland with a "Human Rosary." 

Drawing inspiration from Poland's Rosary at the Borders and a similar Italian effort, participants will be praying for the preservation of the faith and the protection of life at all stages, including the developing human being in the womb.

It also draws encouragement from Matthew's Gospel, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (Matt 18:20)

Organized by a small, but faithful team of Catholics, this national prayer effort calls on all Catholics (the clergy, those in religious Orders, and the laity) to take part by selecting locations along the coast which they are prepared to travel to. It is a call that has been heard and well received throughout Ireland as much of the coastline is quickly filling up with several locations.

To form the "Human Rosary," organizers initially sought fifty-three locations for all the Hail Mary's of the Glorious Mysteries (including the three in the introductory prayers) and additional locations for the Apostles' Creed, Our Fathers, Glory Be, and the Fatima prayers. As of this blog post, there are almost 200 designated locations on the coast, and that number is growing. 

The date for this event was not randomly selected, but specifically chosen to be held on the Solemnity of Christ the King, which has a special significance for Ireland: Ireland was the first nation to be consecrated to Christ the King in the 1930s. As to the importance of this solemnity, the organizers point out that, "Acknowledging Christ as King has relevance for the spiritual, social, cultural, legal, and political life of Ireland. When we honour Christ as King, we are immediately brought to His Queen, Mary and her Immaculate Heart!"

It is Mary's Immaculate Heart that all participants will be appealing to for Her intercession to restore Ireland to a Culture of Life and rid the landscape of the moral disorder that has taken root in the past few decades.

Such an appeal highlights the importance and need for prayer, which organizers for this event have prepared an impressive prayer program that includes: recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary beginning at 2:30pm (local time in Ireland), in honour of Christ the King and His Queen the Immaculate Heart of Mary; prayer to Saint Patrick, the martyrs, saints and holy souls who preserved the faith through the years; prayer to Saint Michael, the angel of Ireland, and the guardian angels of the Irish living and dead; prayer for the protection of life in Ireland; prayer for the preservation of faith in Ireland; prayer of consecration to Christ the King; prayer of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; prayer for the blessing of Ireland; the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00pm; and the planting of Miraculous Medals around the coast.

The Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith is also an appeal, in particular, to the Catholic laity in Ireland, one that echoes the words of Saint Pope John Paul II's homily—during his Apostolic Journey to Irelandon October 1, 1979, at the Greenpark Racecourse, Limerick:
Lay people today are called to a strong Christian commitment: to permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, for Ireland is at a point of decision in her history. The Irish people have to choose today their way forward. Will it be the transformation of all strata of humanity into a new creation, or the way that many nations have gone, giving excessive importance to economic growth and material possessions while neglecting the things of the spirit? The way of substituting a new ethic of temporal enjoyment for the law of God? The way of false freedom which is only slavery to decadence? Will it be the way of subjugating the dignity of the human person to the totalitarian domination of the State? The way of violent struggle between classes? The way of extolling revolution over God? 
Ireland must choose. You the present generation of Irish people must decide; your choice must be clear and your decision firm. Let the voice of your forefathers, who suffered so much to maintain their faith in Christ and thus to preserve Ireland's soul, resound today in your ears through the voice of the Pope when he repeats the words of Christ: "What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life?" (Mt 16 :26). What would it profit Ireland to go the easy way of the world and suffer the loss of her own soul? (3)
Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the "kingdoms of the world and their splendour" to the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 4 :8). Satan, the Tempter, the Adversary of Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world. What a victory he would gain, what a blow he would inflict on the Body of Christ in the world, if he could seduce Irish men and women away from Christ. Now is the time of testing for Ireland. This generation is once more a generation of decision. (4)
Saint Pope John Paul II's homily is ever more relevant today; a relevance that is also understood by many faithful Catholics from around the world. With each passing day, the Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith is not only gaining momentum, but increased international attention and support. Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland has urged Scottish Catholics to follow in Ireland’s footsteps.

Confirmed locations as of November 14, 2017.
The Daughters of Mary Mother of Healing Love in the United States will be uniting their Rosary—and asking others especially of Irish descent to do likewise—encouraging everyone to "...[O]ffer this gift in honor of our Irish ancestors who suffered so much to hand on the great treasure of the Catholic faith to us!" 

Joining the effort will also be faithful Catholics from England: the Missionaries of Charity in London, and at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houghton Saint Giles, Norfolk.

The Catholic Herald in England also has reported on this national prayer effort with an article entitled, Irish Catholics plan mass-rosary prayer along coast.

Here in Canada, LifeSiteNews has reported this event with Dorothy Cummings McLean's article, Thousands to pray rosary on Irish coasts to protect nation from abortion.

This is an especially important time for Ireland; secularism has done much to wane and remove the faith from the hearts of minds of many, providing an opportunity for those—including international globalist and billionaire George Soros through his Open Society Foundation—who seek to usher in a Culture of Death and drastically change Ireland's Christian identity and culture.

Part of what the Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith seeks to accomplish is the defeat of the Eighth Amendment repeal referendum scheduled for May or June 2018. Abortion advocates are hoping that a "successful" referendum will remove the pro-life provision in the constitution which reads, “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The Eighth Amendment was approved by 67% of the Irish population in a referendum on September 7, 1983. It came into effect on October 7, 1983, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Next year's referendum will be an opportunity for Ireland to, once again, positively respond to St. John Paul's homily of October 1, 1979, in Limerick:
And so I say to all, have an absolute and holy respect for the sacredness of human life from the first moment of its conception. Abortion, as the Vatican Council stated, is one of the "abominable crimes" (Gaudium et Spes, 51). To attack unborn life at any moment from its conception is to undermine the whole moral order which is the true guardian of the well-being of man. The defence of the absolute inviolability of unborn life is part of the defence of human rights and human dignity. May Ireland never weaken in her witness, before Europe and before the whole world, to the dignity and sacredness of all human life, from conception until death. (6) 
As to why all this is happening in Ireland one need only look to Ireland's history stemming from the last century up until the last few decades. It is not difficult to ascertain how the forces of darkness (the Evil One and his demons) have been waging a war to usher in a moral disorder that includes a Culture of Death:

  • Contraceptive devices and birth control pills have been available for decades
  • A referendum in 1992, resulted in the option for women to travel to another country (England) in order to have an abortion, as well as the availability of information regarding abortion "services" in other countries.
  • In 1995, Ireland's ban on divorce was removed through another referendum.
  • The referendum of 2015, ushered in "same-sex marriage." 
  • In 2016, the Irish government set up a "Citizens' Assembly" to "consider" the future of the Eight Amendment, which concluded in April 2017, that the Eight Amendment should be repealed. They voted overwhelmingly for abortion to be permitted on the grounds of a mental or physical threat to the life of the mother, in cases of disability, and for socio-economic reasons.

Those interested in further information about Ireland's moral decline, including a detailed report available for download, please read Voice of the Family's article, Ireland's Tragic Abandonment of Catholic Teaching.

The Eight Amendment repeal referendum is a disturbing development, but no matter what the problem, issue, or crisis may be, we as Catholics always have recourse to Divine Intervention through Our Lady of the Rosary who, throughout the history of the Catholic Church, has provided Her assistance to those who have put their trust in Her intercession.

Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith speaks volumes about the trust in Our Lady's intercession, as well as to the understanding that the battle for Ireland is primarily a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons; 
that a most efficacious way to fight the good fight is through group recitation of the Rosary.

Saint Louis De Montfort stated in his book, The Secret of the Rosary, Forty-Sixth Rose: Group Recitation, that not only is group recitation of the Rosary the method of prayer that the devil fears the most, but "...[I]t is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him." (98)

Utilizing the Rosary as a spiritual weapon has long been understood by the Church from the very beginning of its origin, when it was given to St. Dominic by Our Lady in 1214—which St. Louis De Montfort details in the same book, Second Rose: Origin—as a powerful means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners.

I cannot help but also think of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Supremi Apostolatus Officio, on devotion to the Rosary and its efficaciousness as a remedy for the many evils of society, who wrote, "It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God." (2)

Written in 1883, Pope Leo XIII's encyclical not only encouraged devotion to the Rosary, but spotlighted how important it has been in the history of the Catholic Church when faced with several threats; namely, the violence of heresy, intolerable moral corruption, and aggressive Islamic attacks by the Ottoman Turks.

This encyclical is a historical lesson that has not lost its relevance for the many evils of today's world. It is in my view, a worthy addition to anyone's reading list on the Rosary that is sure to inspire Catholics in Ireland to join Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith at a time in Ireland's history that is so dependent upon the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

May this national prayer effort inspire Catholics in Ireland—and throughout the world—to be united in prayer on November 26; that this day may draw God's Divine Intervention upon the nation, uproot and remove the moral disorder from the Irish landscape, and restore Ireland to a Culture of Life.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán Declares 2018 to be the Year of the Families

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the Budapest Family Summit
Prime Minister Viktor Orban giving his speech during the Budapest Family Summit. Photo: About Hungary Blog/PM Orbán at World Congress of Families XI summit: 2018 will be the year for families

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared 2018, to be the "Year of the Families"; a declaration made on May 25, during his opening speech at the Budapest Family Summit.

It is a declaration that not only spotlights a nation's strength relies on its people—and fundamental to that is the family, the primary cell of society—but also seeks to address the declining birth rate experienced by many countries in Europe (including Hungary) with real and immediate solutions that will help families have more children.

The World Congress of Families (WCF) and the International Organization for the Family (IOF) chose Hungary for the second time to host this summit—whose theme was “Building Family-Friendly Nations: Making Families Great Again”—because Hungary, as the WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs put it, "...[H]as demonstrated its strategic leadership as an advocate for the natural family in Europe." Here is what the WCF also published about why they chose Hungary:
Hungary’s leadership in defense of family, life, and Christianity is well known in Europe. The adoption of key provisions in the Hungarian Constitution in 2011 defining marriage between a man and a woman and protecting human life from conception to natural death have made the Orban government the hero of pro-family and pro-life leaders from all over the world. Hungary’s leadership is fully committed to family friendly governance and has recently launched a new national motto, 'Hungary, the Family Friendly Country.'
In Hungary's constitution, The Fundamental Law of Hungary, there are four provisions that specifically point to the truth and accuracy of Jacobs' statements. The first is contained within the National Avowal, which states, "We hold that the family and the nation constitute the principal framework of our coexistence, and that our fundamental cohesive values are fidelity, faith and love." (2)

The second is located at FOUNDATION Article L, "(1) Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman established by voluntary decision, and the family as the basis of the survival of the nation. Family ties shall be based on marriage and/or the relationship between parents and children."

The third is under FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY Article II, "Human dignity shall be inviolable. Every human being shall have the right to life and human dignity; the life of the foetus shall be protected from the moment of conception."

The fourth is at FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY Article XV, "(5) By means of separate measures, Hungary shall protect families, children, women, the elderly and persons living with disabilities."

Hungary's constitution is impressive; reading it is time well spent. For those interested in knowing more about it, consider my post of December 2016, Viktor Orbán: A True Leader of and for the People of Hungary and Hungary's Constitution The Fundamental Law of Hungary.

It comes as no surprise that Hungary was chosen to host this summit; part of the goal of this summit, as stated on the WCF website, was to "...[S]trengthen our existing international network and help launch a new global profamily alliance of countries dedicated to defending marriage, the family and the sanctity of human life.”

Since Orbán and the party he leads, the Fidesz Party, was elected in 2010, the government has spent 9.7 billion EUR in support of families. Debt relief, child support, family housing incentives, support for household modernization are just some of the latest measures put into place to help families.

It is part of a demographic battle that Orbán is fighting—an approach that seeks to strengthen families from within Hungary rather than rely on the false solution of immigration—knowing full well that strong families will create a strong, competitive, and prosperous Hungary for current and future generations.

The family is at the center of Orbán's vision of the future! It is Orbán's firm belief that protecting families, no matter what the costs, is essential.

Orbán certainly articulated that very belief during his speech at the Budapest Family Summit (World Congress of Families XI)a speech worth reading to not only better understand the importance of the family, but to capture the strength and intelligence of Orbán's leadership.

A safe society is a fundamental component of any government's plan to protect families, which Orbán highlighted in the first part of his speech, when referring to Brussels' so-called "refugee" resettlement scheme and the migrant crisis that it created.

Hungary's border fences along the Hungarian-Serbian border
Hungary's southern border fences along the Hungarian-Serbian border. Photo: About Hungary Blog/Hungary’s southern border fence has been protecting the frontier of Europe for two years

Orbán responded to that threat with the building of two border fences along the border with Serbia, as well as establishing border-hunters (specially trained border guards), who form part of a security force: modern-day border-fort garrisons, police officers, and the defence forces.

Not only has Orbán brought the Balkan-migrant route—of which Hungary is an extension—to a complete halt, but he has enabled Hungarians to live in a peaceful and safe society; and in the process, has inspired confidence in young people to have families, secure in the knowledge that throughout Hungary will echo the "Happy cries of children rather than sirens from police cars and ambulances."

Today, Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe!

The danger for Hungary and Europe is not over as Orbán pointed out, "It is only a matter of time and political expedience before millions of people who are ready to set out are once again channelled in our direction." (1) The coalition of human rights activists and people smugglers continue to work to send waves of migrants—mostly men in their prime—in the direction of Europe.

Recent developments prove Orbán to be absolutely correct as has been reported by Government Spokesman Zoltán Kovács in his latest blog post, European Parliament speeds up realization of the Soros plan.

In that post, Kovács spotlights the proposal made by the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) for a limitless resettlement quota scheme, that coupled with what he described as a "Hungary-bashing report," points to a pro-immigration agenda that will attempt to strong-arm any member that refuses to cooperate.

Youth and traditional dancing at the Budapest Family Summit
Hungarian youth and traditional dancing at the Budapest Family Summit. Photo: Daily News Hungary/INTERNATIONAL FAMILY SUMMIT – ORBÁN: GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE FAMILY TAX BENEFITS

One of the most salient points in the speech that Orbán so candidly spoke of, is the declining birth rate among European countries, including Hungary. He went on to state that, "...The time for straight talking has come. Europe, our common homeland, is losing out in the population competition between great civilisations. Fewer and fewer marriages are producing fewer and fewer children, and the population is therefore ageing and declining." (2)

There are two views on how to solve this problem. The first sees immigration as the answer, while the other view taken by Central Europe (including Hungary) is that they must solve the demographic problem by relying on their own resources; a truth that Orbán stated must be acknowledged through a spiritual renewal.

To put the declining birth rate in Hungary into perspective, Orbán cited from national statistics on Hungary's population in 1980, when the population was at 10,709,000 people; by 2017, that figure dropped to 9,799,000. It is a dramatic drop in population—a loss of almost 1 million people—which as Orbán pointed out, "...[I]s more than all the casualties we sustained in World War II." (2) 

So important is the need to address the declining birth rate that Orbán refers to the restoration of natural reproduction not only as a national cause, but "the national cause."

Orbán's goal is to raise the birth rate to 2.1% by 2030, which will require responsible family policies that must be pursued for decades, over the course of several governments. Orbán considers this to be the first precondition for the population turnaround.

The second precondition is a powerful financial engine, "A competitive model that is full of energy." Elaborating further on this Orbán stated that any major political, social and intellectual turnaround always requires financial resources:
As far as we Hungarians are concerned, I can tell you that here economic growth is in a range between three and five per cent. This is the magical GDP growth. Government debt is declining and unemployment is coming to an end. Because our economic policy has been successful, the next target of our general and economic policy is to promote the number of children being born. It is to this that we’ve adjusted our fiscal system, it is to this that we’ve adjusted our housing support system; and our work-based economic system – with which we shall soon reach full employment – also serves this purpose. (3)
The third precondition for a successful demographic turnaround is for Europe to be in "good shape"; that is, each country's economic plan has to include support for the family. So important is this that Orbán stated, "If as a unit of community the family does not occupy first place in the hearts of young people, however, economic strength and excellent national economy figures are in vain: we cannot achieve anything." (3) Hungary spends 4.6% of GDP on family support.

Orbán acknowledged the simple truth that it is essential to pursue a policy that removes obstacles from the path of young people if more children are to be born. It was in the spirit of this truth, that he declared 2018, as the "Year of the Families." 

Accompanying that declaration is an action plan that will help to ensure young people are financially supported and encouraged to have more children. There is no better way to understand that action plan than to read it from Orbán's own words:
We’ve decided to further raise the rates of family tax allowances, and to place families with two children at the centre of this, as they represent the largest section in Hungary. And I’ve learnt that where there is room for two, there is also room for three – or even four. Braver families may even find room for five. For young women with two children and student loans, the Government will cancel fifty per cent of their debt, and for those with three or more children one hundred per cent of the student loan debt will be cancelled. For graduates we shall extend the term of maternity leave by a year, and for university students it is extended until the child reaches the age of two. Hungarians 3/4 understand the meaning of this family policy measure. “My home is my castle”: this is how the Hungarians think, and this is another reason why it is difficult to adopt a good policy here. We have decided that families with mortgages can have one million forints written off their debt if they have three children, and one million forints will be written off for each further child, with the state bearing the burden. Finally, we shall embark on infant day care developments on an unprecedented scale. We are going to build infant day care centres everywhere families live, and we shall renovate existing infant day care centres wherever necessary. We are also opening up our family support system – although cautiously – to fellow Hungarians who live outside the borders As a result, from next year they may also be eligible for maternity support after the birth of children, and baby bonds will be available across the entire Carpathian Basin. (4)
If that wasn't impressive enough, Orbán also announced the establishment of a research institute that will serve to better Hungary's spiritual and intellectual competitiveness, and good policy planning. The institute will become an international think tank that will, as Orbán put it, "...[P]rovide sufficient knowledge and intellectual munition to help and support families, laying the philosophical foundations for our family policy, and enabling accurate understanding of the situation in Europe and the world." (4)

Using the analogy of a ship sailing into the wind Orbán pointed out that obstacles do exist, but no matter what those obstacles are, with perseverance, courage and the backing of like-minded allies, together Hungary and Europe, just like a ship that knows what port it is aiming for, will reach its destination.

The brave, responsible, and intelligent leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has proven itself for seven straight years, and there is every reason to believe that Hungary's progress and growth will continue for many years to come: the Hungarian model is working and it shows!

Such is the kind of leadership that other countries should be seeking if they are serious about: a major demographic turnaround; protecting and strengthening the family; securing their borders; and guarding against all threats to their Christian identity, heritage, and culture.

God bless Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for continuing to demonstrate the kind of leadership that is so desperately needed in many countries in Europe, in Canada, and throughout the world.

May 2018, be a great year for the families!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Poland's Rosary at the Borders National Prayer Event and the Importance of Group Recitation of the Rosary

Poles in the forest on route to the Polish-Czech border to pray.
Faithful Catholics in Poland walking in the forest near the city of Szklarska Poreba, Poland along the Polish-Czech border during the Rosary at the Borders on October 7, 2017. Photo: Martin Divisek/European Press Photo Agency via New York Times.

It comes as no surprise to read the news coming out of Poland of the Rosary at the Borders national prayer event that took place on October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary; a feast in which Catholics commemorate and give thanks to Our Lady for Her intercession in the great victory of Christian forces over the Ottoman naval fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

The day began with the celebration of the Mass in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary after which the faithful made their way to the borders to recite all four sets of Mysteries between 2:00pm to 4:00pm: the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.

This national prayer effort was organized by a lay Catholic organization, Solo Dios Basta Foundation, founded in June 2015, by a group of secular evangelists, retreat organizers, and filmmakers, whose Mission page includes an impressive list of goals, not the least of which is for the "Promotion of Christian culture, activities for the New Evangelization and support for the comprehensive development of Polish society, especially support for cultural, educational and therapeutic activities."

Rosary at the Borders, was sanctioned by Church leaders in Poland, and included 320 parishes from twenty-two dioceses participating at approximately 4,000 locations along Poland’s border with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and the Baltic Sea.

It was a national prayer effort endorsed by Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo—who is the only Prime Minister in Europe whose son is a priest, ordained in May of this year—in a tweet, "I greet all the participants." 

This Rosary event was by no means limited to the land as there were participants in fishing boats at sea, as well as on kayaks and sailboats forming a Rosary-chain on Polish rivers.

One of Solo Dios Basta's (God Alone is Enough) founders, Maciej Bodasiński, stated that many people also prayed over the radio, in parish churches, in homes, at the airport, in hospitals, in the streets, and at roadside crosses and chapels.

In addition, there were many Catholics from all around the world reciting the Rosary, united with the people of Poland: Akita, Japan, New Zealand, the village of Stamsund in the Lofoten Island above the Arctic Circle, China, Cambodia, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and in the USA.

Polish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan also prayed the Rosary in solidarity with their fellow countrymen back in Poland.

Many of us here in Canada were also united to this national prayer effort!

Mountain view of participants at the Rosary at the Borders prayer event
Mountain view of the Rosary at the Borders event on October 7, 2017. Photo: Solo Dios Basta Foundation

Poles have always had a strong awareness and understanding of their Christian culture and identity; a fact that I first discovered when reading, Witness To Hopea book written by George Weigel, on the life of a young Polish man, Karol Wojtyła, who later become Fr. Karol Wojtyła and whose vocational path led him to become as he is more widely known, Saint John Paul II.

It was during that reading in 2003—to which I dedicated the majority of my summer weekends—that I became quite impressed with the Catholic Church in Poland specifically with respect to how the young Karol Wojtyła, together with millions of other Poles, kept their Christian culture and identity alive during the Nazi occupation—a time when Poland's political borders were temporarily removed from the map of Europe—and during the many decades that followed under the Communist regime that lasted for half a century.

Today we see that same Polish spirit, keenly aware of the importance of the Rosary for the protection of Poland and Europe, for the conversion of sinners and unbelievers, and peace in the world.

It is with that same spirit that the Poles have responded to a similar threat as in the sixteenth century: the threat of Islam overrunning Europe. Unlike the military threat of the 1500s, today's Muslim threat comes in the form of aggressive migration to Europe from Africa, the Middle East, and from even farther away locations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in that region.

Poles have always understood that the threat of Islam is primarily a spiritual battle that is to be primarily fought and sustained with spiritual weapons; namely, the Holy Mass and the daily recitation of the entire Rosary!

It is an understanding that has translated into other forms of action. Poland, together with Hungary, have lead the Visegrad Four (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) in rejecting all Muslim migration to their respective countries: the Soros scheme that Brussels has embraced to change Europe's demographics and Christian culture through a massive influx of Muslim migrants, who are overwhelmingly men in their prime.

So threatened is Christianity today in Europe, that Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski stated during Mass, “Let’s pray for other nations of Europe and the world to understand that we need to return to the Christian roots of European culture if we want Europe to remain Europe."

We see the same concerns in the Czech Republic elections, in which migration fears dominate the election.

In the recent Austrian election, the people voted Sebastian Kurz, from the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), into power who is expected to be the next chancellor and form a coalition with Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ); both of whom are conservative and share beliefs in common with Poland and Hungary, including the rejection of Muslim migrants.

Rosary chain at the border. Photo: LifeSiteNews/‘There was spiritual unity:’ Catholics reflect on Poland rosary crusade

Many Catholics could learn from Poland of the importance of group recitation of the Rosary, which although may be inferred by the large amount of participants through "strength in numbers"—estimated to have been approximately 1.5 million Catholics—is probably something that is not fully understood.

The specifics of that full understanding are available to us from Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of the Rosary, to which he dedicated an entire chapter, Forty-Sixth Rose: Group Recitation

Saint Louis De Montfort begins the chapter by emphasizing the fundamental importance of group recitation of the Rosary: that it gives the greatest glory to God; that it does the most for our souls; and it is the prayer that the devil fears the most.

Further reinforcing its efficaciousness, St. Louis De Montfort referred to scriptural passage of Matthew 18:20, when he stated, "Our Blessed Lord expressly recommended common prayer to His apostles and disciples and promised that whenever two or three were gathered together in His name He would be there in the midst of them." (96)

Adding a note of encouragement he stated, "What a wonderful thing to have Jesus Christ in our midst! And the only thing we have to do to get Him to come is to say the Rosary in a group." (96)

As an aside, it is worth mentioning the footnote attached to that encouragement, "St. Louis' message fits in beautifully with that of the great 'Family Rosary Crusade' of today." (96) In its current form, The Secret of the Rosary, was published in 1954, which explains the reference to the Family Rosary Crusade: an international Rosary prayer effort, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton in and around that time, that was well known throughout the world, as was the most famous slogan that developed from it, "The family that prays together, stays together." 

Other important points that St. Louis De Montfort lists for our consideration when praying the Rosary within a group setting are:

  • Our minds are far more alert during public prayer than private individual recitation
  • With prayer in common, the prayer of each individual belongs to everyone and; thus, it makes for a greater prayer in that, if one person is not praying well, someone else in the same gathering who prays better may make up for the deficiency. Those who are strong uphold the weak; those who are fervent inspire the lukewarm.
  • When an individual recites the Rosary privately, that individual only gains the merit of one Rosary, but when recited within a group setting, every individual gains the merit of the group's recitation.
  • Public prayer is far more powerful than private prayer in appeasing God's anger and drawing His mercy upon the Church. This has always been advocated in times of public tragedy and suffering.

Poles praying the Rosary outside of a parish
Praying the Rosary outside of a parish. Photo: LifeSiteNews/There was spiritual unity:’ Catholics reflect on Poland rosary crusade

Saint Louis De Montfort also makes a special appeal to members of the the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosaryof which I am a member—that no matter where they reside, they should strive to gather together in a parish Church, chapel or someone's home to recite the Rosary in two choirs.

Saint Louis De Montfort elaborated further on the importance of gathering in large numbers to recite the Rosary:
Finally, when people say the Rosary together it is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him. He can often overcome the prayer of an individual, but if this prayer is joined to that of other Christians, the devil has much more trouble in getting the best of it. It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle it cannot be broken. 'In union there is strength.' Soldiers join together in an army to overcome their enemies; wicked people often get together for parties of debauchery and dancing, and evil spirits join forces in order to make us lose our souls. So why, then, should not Christians join forces to have Jesus Christ present with them when they pray, to appease Almighty God's anger, to draw down His grace and mercy upon us, and to frustrate and overcome the devil and his angels more forcefully? (98)
To illustrate the Rosary's efficaciousness, St. Louis De Montfort cited from his own ministry of the transforming effects upon small towns and villages where he preached missions; places where debauchery, blasphemy, quarrels and feuds ended and became places where hymns and the chant of the Our Father and Hail Mary were heard.

Like in the time of St. Louis De Montfort, there are those today who are enemies of the Rosary and may even try to hinder its establishment and growth—some of whom have even criticized the recent Rosary at the Borders event—to which we can apply the saint's encouragement to the faithful, "...[D]o not give up." (99)

Saint Louis De Montfort dedicated an entire chapter to enemies of the Rosary, Ninth Rose: Enemies, in which he referred to such people as, "freethinkers," who have "absorbed the poison of hell" and are "inspired by the devil." (29)

The Catholic Church in Poland has admirably demonstrated that they will never give up. May Catholics throughout the world be inspired by such faith and devotion.