Sunday, August 29, 2010

Humility and Freedom

"Some are displeased with the physician who cures them by reproof, and are not angry with the man who wounds them by flattery." -St. Benard

The Scripture readings of August 29th are prevaded with the theme of humility. Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val composed a prayer he would recite after every Mass he celebrated called Litany of Humility.

Humility is the foundation on which discipleship rests. No one knows this better than St. John Baptist. Just as the public ministry of Jesus was beginning, St. John's mission was coming to an end. As our Lord was walking towards the horizon, St. John said, “He must increase while I must decrease.” This is the vocation of every follower of Christ. To the extent that we decrease, Jesus increases in us so as to give glory to God. But first we have to be pruned. That is, we must “put to death the parts of us that are earthly." (Colossians 3:5). And if we fail to do just that, God will do it for us by sending us trials. There is no getting around the fact that liberation of spirit requires a kind of death to self.

As for Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, it is an irony of Divine Providence that he was chosen as Secretary of State by our last canonized pope- St. Pius X. Every day he would pray, “From the desire of being honored and from the desire of being preferred to others…Deliver me Jesus.” Yet the Lord rewarded him with a position of being the right hand man of a saintly pope. No one can outdo the Lord in generosity.

Cardinal Merry de Val, being of stature at the Vatican, did not think it beneath him to teach the Catholic Faith in the slums of Rome; for that is what he did. Like Pope St. Pius X, he was very generous to those in need. He would often slip money underneath the doors of poor households. For him, the State dignitary deserved no more of his attention than the street sweeper.

In dealing with opponents of the Church from without or modernist theologians from within, he did not flinch from confrontation or conflict. He saw himself as a “Watchman” of the Church; jealous for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.” (Ez 33:7)

Upon his death in 1930, he was found wearing a hair shirt. His penitential spirituality and the Litany of Humility he composed for himself, bore him abundant fruit. He was a man of God who was unmoved by honor and at peace with humiliations.

Following the death of St. Pius X, the Cardinal wrote a book called, The Memoirs of Pope Pius X. In it, he recounts that the adulation and deference that came with being a pope was a burden to St. Pius X. Indeed, for a Saint, such special treatment is a cross to be carried. Like the Lord, they avoid human praise so that they can merit the approbation of God.

Yet, many a youth today long to become famous; and when their dreams are realized, they become disillusioned with that fame. Yesterday people looked up to heroes, today they admire celebrities. For the first time in history, surveys of young people reveal that they prefer being famous more than being rich.

As for us, when we do not get the recognition we think we deserve, we get discouraged or saddened. Or when people find fault with us, we become indignant and lose our peace. As St. Gregory the Great said, "We have known many who, when no one accuses them, confess themselves sinners; but when they have been corrected for a fault, they endeavor with all their might to defend themselves, and to remove the imputation of guilt." Indeed, being silent when criticized is worth more to God than ten days of fasting. What is more paradoxical is that this same virtue which gives strength for keeping silent when criticized, is the same virtue which gives strength for speaking the truth when no one else will.

When the grace of God's humility is given the chance work within the soul, then true joy and happiness takes root and the foretaste of heaven begins. Honors and human applause lose their value; in place of that, the desire to please God grows stronger. There is something to be said for holy obscurity and exclusion; it leads to purification, and ironically, it brings true and lasting joy to the soul. Our Lord said as much in the Beatitudes.

Pray the Litany of Humility. You will find it to be repugnant to your pride, but if you should taste the deliverance for which you pray, you will enjoy a kind of freedom few people enjoy. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (II Cor. 3:17) And where freedom is, there is humility!

Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...

From the fear of being humiliated ... Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Get to Know Leo

An introduction to the writings of Pope Leo XIII:

I wanted to bring to your attention to a pope that will be more and more relevant as Christianity continues to struggle for its survival in the West: That pope is Leo XIII. His pontificate was from 1878-1903. You will be hearing more about his writings as the Church navigates her way through uncertain times. The writings of Leo XIII are too important to be left unused.

Alexis de Tocqueville once said that when a nation is in peril, the people have an aptitude for setting aside their petty political differences in order to select, from among them, the best men to lead them out of danger. In 1776, for instance, as the Revolution was drawing near, Americans summoned the aid of George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

Although the Catholic Church was given the gift of immortality by her founder, Jesus Christ, she, like any nation or institution, can experience profound setbacks and feel as though her very existence is on the brink. Indeed, on a regional basis, the Church can be snuffed out of existence; the seven churches of the Apocalypse are proof to that effect.

Just as nations look to men of superior leadership in times of peril, so too the Catholic Church can pull, from among her long canon of Popes, the wisdom that is needed to find solutions for today’s problems. For every generation and every age has its own blind spots. The blind spots of twenty-first century Catholics are better illuminated with the writings of Pope Leo XIII.

You will find priests like Fr. John Corapi and think-tanks like The Acton Institute making frequent reference to Leo XIII. His writings are refreshingly clear and concise. He is an articulate pope who has diagnosed the disease of relativism and totalitarianism long before they reared their ugly heads.

For instance, in the year 1900, he wrote an encyclical- On Jesus Christ the Redeemer. Mind you, this was before World War I, the Holocaust, World War II, the Sexual Revolution of Sixties, and the precipitous drop in priestly and religious vocations following Vatican II. Also keep in mind that Leo XIII was the pope who had a vision of Satan asking permission, from God, to test the Church for a hundred years in new and unforetold ways.

Again, in the encyclical, On Jesus Christ the Redeemer, Pope Leo writes:

“The outlook of the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and long standing causes of evil, of both public and a private nature…Once the idea of the authority of God as the Judge of right and wrong is forgotten, law must necessarily lose its primary authority and justice must perish; and these are two most powerful and most bonds of society. Similarly, once the hope and expectation of eternal happiness is taken away, temporal goods will be greedily sought after. Every man will strive to secure the largest share for himself. The consequences are conspiracy, anarchy, and nihilism. There is neither peace abroad nor security at home.”

However, every citizen can expect security and prosperity when Jesus Christ is given his due by society and by the State:

“Wherever Christianity rules over all without let or hindrance, there the order established by Divine Providence is preserved, and both security and prosperity are the happy result. The common welfare, then, urgently demands a return to Him from whom we should never have gone astray; to Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, -and thus on the part not only of individuals but of society as a whole. We must restore Christ to His own rightful possession. All elements of the national life must be made to drink in the Life which proceeds from Him."

The first pope of the twentieth-century eloquently communicated the relationship between personal faith and national prosperity. He reminded those who would radically separate Church and State, leaving the government and public institutions devoid of religion by saying, "For men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose everbounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings."

Below are a few notable encyclicals by Pope Leo XIII which, in a prophetic way, illuminate the paths we travel today.

• Diuturnum (On the Origin of Civil Power) June 29, 1881
• Divinum Illud Munus (On the Holy Spirit Divinum) May 9, 1897
• Exeunte Iam Anno (On Right Ordering of Christian Life) December 25, 1888
• Graves De Communi Re (On Christian Democracy) January 18, 1901
• Immortale Dei (On the Christian Constitution of States) November 1, 1885
• In Amplissimo (On the Church in the United States) April 15, 1902
• Inscrutabili Dei Consilio (On the Evils of Society) April 21, 1878
• Libertas Praestantissimum (On the Nature of Human Liberty) June 20, 1888
• Longinqua (On Catholicism in the United States) January 6, 1895
• Mirae Caritatis (On the Holy Eucharist) May 28, 1902
• Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism) December 28, 1878
• Quod Multum (On the Liberty of the Church) August 22, 1886
• Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor) May 15, 1891
• Sapientiae Christianae (On Christians as Citizens) January 10, 1890
• Satis Cognitum (On the Unity of the Church) June 29, 1896
• Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae (Virtue, Nature and Grace, and Americanism)

You can find more on this link:

Loved Ones and Lost Souls II

Loved Ones and Lost Souls continued:

"It is impossible that the son of such tears should perish.” These were the words of St. Ambrose to a mother grieving over her reprobate son.

The tears of St. Monica were the anointing applied to St. Augustine's soul before his sins were wiped clean from the waters of baptism. When a son or daughter strays from Christ, sometimes the tears of a mother make up for the lack of tears we ought to have for our own sins.

St. Monica's perseverance paid off. St. Augustine, along with his son Adeodatus, entered the Catholic Church in the year 387 A.D. After being initiated into his new life with Christ, he became Bishop of Hippo, in northern Africa. He would go on to lay the cornerstone of Western Civilization with his sanctity and theology. To be sure, St. Augustine is considered one of the most important Fathers and Doctors of the Catholic Church. All this was made possible by a mother who did not give up.

On her deathbed, St. Monica glanced at her son and said, "Remember me at the altar." It just so happened that prayers for her soul in purgatory were unnecessary; for she was not there. Instead, her intercession would be invoked by the Church in subsequent years.

On earth, St. Monica followed her son, St. Augustine, so that he might find eternal life. But in the year 430 A.D., St. Augustine followed his mother to heaven.

Throughout the centuries, these two great Saints became benefactors for those parents whose children had walked away from Christ and His Church. God counted the tears of St. Monica and they added up. What God did in the fourth century for St. Monica, He could do for twenty-first century parents who find themselves in similar circumstances.


Follow Up Commentary: Old stories do not help much if they have no relevance to today's circumstances. The story of St. Monica and St. Augustine provides a general lesson of perseverance and penance for those lost souls we care about.

I remember listening to Relevant Radio when a mother called in to express some of her concerns about her daughter. This particular mother said that her family prays the rosary everyday and attends Mass on a regular basis. However, she felt that she was losing her daughter over important moral issues like homosexuality. The woman went on to add that her daughter attended a public high school which itself was a challenge to her daughter's faith at times.

From high school to college, the social and intellectual temptations of young adults to abandon their faith only intensifies. In early 2010, a Pew Forum poll found that “nearly one-in-five adults under age 30 (18%) say they were raised in a religion but are now unaffiliated with any particular faith.” Younger generations are found to be more liberal on social issues and less favorable to organized religion.

Upon finding out that their son or daughter no longer goes to church on Sunday's, parents indistinctly want to push their children back through the church doors and into Mass. What these parents deem to be the solution is very often the problem. Participating in the Divine Liturgy (Mass), presupposes an active relationship with Christ. Daily prayer, Scripture reading, table conversations and a Christian social life are the conditions on which Mass attendance makes sense and is worth getting up in the morning for. If Catholicism is not a 24/7 lifestyle- and instead is a once a week activity -I am afraid that young adults will grow indifferent to it.

For parents who are concerned over the faith of their children, I have this suggestion: Don't worry about Mass attendance of your son or daughter right away. Instead of pushing Sunday Mass attendance from the start, talk to them about Jesus, about prayer, about heaven and hell, about your own answered prayers and your personal experience with the Lord. Cultivate their personal relationship with Jesus. If this sounds too fundamentalistic, it is not; it has been a Catholic principle since the beginning. The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is built on the interior life lived during the week. Even the reception of Communion presupposes that the person is free from mortal sin.

As Jesus said, "If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Before the altar, therefore, there are things that must be in order: Commmunication and reconcilation with God and with neighbor are paramount.

The encounter with Christ as an individual must come before encountering Christ at the altar, where the Church gathers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loved Ones and Lost Souls

Feast day of St. Monica: August 27th
Feast day of St. Augustine: August 28th

Through the saved, God very often searches for the lost. Loved ones of lost souls are the means by which the Good Shepherd finds his lost sheep.

This couldn't be truer for St. Monica who, in the fourth century, followed her son, Augustine Aurelius, all the way to Milan, Italy from her home in northern Africa. At the time, St. Augustine was pursuing a career in teaching rhetoric. He didn’t particularly like her tagging along, so he tried to find ways to lose her. However, she was determined to track her oldest son down so that he could be won over to Christ.

In his younger years, St. Augustine was an intellectual who was given over to false beliefs about God and the world. He was also a worldly and sensual man; as such, he did not have any scruples about “shacking up” with his lover. Living the wild life, he presumed the Lord’s patience by praying, “God, make me chaste…but not yet.” As one might expect, a baby came from this out-of-wedlock union. The boy was given the name, Adeodatus. St. Augustine, being the wayward son that he was, would be the source of sorrow for his saintly mother.

Speaking of mothers, Mother Theresa once told a friend of mine that for those souls who need to be saved from moral and spiritual darkness- such as prostitution and drug addiction -a price needs to be paid. Jesus said as much to the disciples who failed to exorcise a man possessed with demons: "But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” St. Monica, in a mystical union with our Lord, needed to pay the price for her son Augustine. She “carried about in her heart the dying of Jesus.” (cf. II Cor. 4:10) What was true for St.Monica is true for every Christian. And that is, "Christ's sufferings overflow to us."(I Cor 1:5) His Passion does not render our sacrifices null and void. On the contrary, Jesus suffered for sinners so that we could suffer for sinners. To be sure, Augustine’s soul was purchased with his mother’s tears; and those tears were mingled with the blood of Christ.

St. Monica, however, was given some relief through a dream she had. It would seem that her prayers were heard. In the book, Confessions, St. Augustine relates the following about what would turn out to be a prophetic dream: “She saw herself standing upon a certain wooden rule [a measuring rod which symbolized the rule of Faith], and coming towards her a young man, splendid, joyful and smiling upon her, although she grieved and was crushed with grief. When he asked her the reason for her sorrow and her daily tears- he asked, as is the custom, not for the sake of learning but for the sake of teaching –she replied that she lamented for my perdition. Then he bade her to rest secure and instructed her that she should attend and see that where she was, there was I also. And when she looked there she saw me standing on the same rule.”

Soon thereafter, St. Monica arrived in Milan only to join the company of a great bishop- St. Ambrose. She sought his counsel and how she might save her son from the erroneous sect called Manichaeism. In response, Bishop Ambrose said to her, “Only pray to the Lord on his behalf. He will find out by reading what the character of that error is and how great is its impiety.” She then implored the saintly bishop to talk to Augustine. But St. Ambrose refused. He said to St. Monica that her son needed to be willing to talk to him; that a conversation about the Faith should not be imposed or forced. Nevertheless, she persisted, with tears flowing, in asking the same favor over and over again. Finally, St. Ambrose got annoyed and said, “Go away from me now! As you live, it is impossible that the son of such tears should perish.” (That’s right. Saints get annoyed too). In any case, instead of getting offended, St. Monica took it as a sign from heaven that her prayers and sacrifices would pay off.

“It is impossible that the son of such tears should perish.” These words by St. Ambrose should echo through the heart of every parent of a son or daughter who has walked away from God and the Church. This mother-son relationship is a story, not only about perseverance and tears, but about hope.

More about St. Augustine and finding lost souls on part two of Loved Ones and Lost Souls.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Islam and the Rise & Fall of Christianity

Muslims know their history. Christians, by and large, do not know theirs. September 11th, for instance, has historical significance. In March of 1936, Belloc wrote about the last real campaign of the Muslim Turks to invade Christian lands: "Vienna, as we saw, was almost taken and only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland on a date that ought to be among the most famous in history- September 11, 1683." This was the turning point. Following this memorable date, Islamic civilization with all of its political dominance declined while Christian civilization grew more prosperous and powerful.

The Cordoba Initiative, the Islamic movement behind the building of the mosque at Ground Zero, has a great deal of historical meaning for Muslims as well. For sake of the brevity, I will quote an article from the Catholic Culture website: "Originally the site of a Catholic church dedicated to St. James, it was converted to a mosque after the Islamic conquest of southern Spain in the 8th century, and it was converted back to a cathedral when Spain’s Catholic monarchy wrested control of Cordoba from the Muslims in the 13th century." Whatever religious, political and cultural gains were made by Christians after the 13th century, and especially after September 11, 1683, the making of a Ground Zero mosque by the Cordoba Initiative would undoubtedly symbolize for Muslims the recapturing of what was lost during those years.

With that said, Phil Jenkins, in the The Lost History of Christianity, gives us some insights about the tension between Christianity and Islam over the last thousand years. You might be surprised to know how much ground the Church lost to Islam between the eighth-century and the seventeenth-century. But under the wise counsel of God and the Blessed Virgin interceding on our behalf, there is always hope for the future.

Here are some historical considerations to keep mind from the book:

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia- and How it Died
By: Phil Jenkins

"Dechristianization is one of the least studied aspects of Christian history. Partly, the lack of interest in vanishing churches is a matter of practicality, in that dying organizations tend not to produce records of their own extinction."

"The Statistics of decline are sobering. Look, for instance, at Asia Minor, the region that is often mentioned throughout the New Testament: it is here that we find such historic names as Iconium and Ephesus, Galatia and Bithynia, the seven cities of the book of Revelation...Still in the [year] 1050, the region had 373 bishoprics, and the inhabitants were virtually all Christian, overwhelmingly members of the Orthodox Church. Four hundred years later, the Christian proportion had fallen to 10 or 15 percent of the population, and we can find just three bishops. According to one estimate, the number of Asian Christians fell, between [the year] 1200 and 1500, from 21 million to 3.4 million." [Today, in what was New Testament territory, Muslims are the majority. Where the bells of Cathedrals once rang for the Divine Liturgy, people now hear the "adhan" from the mosques, the call to prayer.]

"Where the African church failed was in not carrying Christianity beyond the Romanized inhabitants of the cities and the great estates and not sinking the roots into the world of native peoples...the African Church made next to no progress in taking the faith to the villages and neighboring tribes, nor, critically, had they tried to evangelize in local languages."

"The strength of early and medieval Christianity was that it created a sanctified landscape in which Christian institutions were visible everywhere."

"Throughout the Middle Ages, Christians saw Muhammad as a schismatic rather than the leader of an alien faith."

"An early story reports that when he captured the sanctuary of Mecca, Muhammad ordered the destruction of all the idols in the temple, except for a figure of the Virgin and child."

"Mark Twain remarked on how often the world had turned out for the burial of Roman Catholicism, only to find it postponed yet again..."

"Nothing so clearly indicates the imminent revival of a religion as a rising torrent of prophecies about its demise."


These are valuable insights and historical lessons. I hope and pray that Christians can learn and adapt accordingly.

Permit me to leave you with one more quote that inspires hope. It is by St. Louis de Monfort, from the book True Devotion. Referring to the Christians of the end times and the nature of their mission, he said:

"These are the great men who are to come; but Mary is the one who, by the order of the Most High, shall fashion them for the purpose of extending His [Jesus] empire over that of the impious, the idolaters and the Muslims. But when and how shall this be? God alone knows."

Smiling Back at Death

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.” These were the words of the Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius in the second century. What the pagan philosopher stated in theory, Christians did in practice. Death was an enigma for pagans, but for Christians, it was seen as the road to eternal life. This is why the early Christians were full of hope…even during the fall of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the finest of the early Christians- the confessors and martyrs, never looked back. Their destiny was ever impressed upon their minds. For what they sacrificed in this life would be paid back a hundred-fold in heaven. Such was the Lord’s guarantee.

This is why the early Christians displayed a serene confidence when faced with adversity and death. It was the Christians in large numbers, not pagans, who smiled back at death. This serene confidence in Christ and the eager anticipation of eternal life was exceedingly attractive to on-lookers. From it came a large number of conversions. This "smile" was captured in a letter by Tertullian, a Father of early the Church (around 200 A.D.). It was a letter addressed to a Roman Emperor who, like Marcus Aurelius, persecuted and executed Christians. He wrote the following:

“You will never destroy our sect! Mark this well: when you think you are striking it down, you are, in reality, strengthening it. The public will become restive at so much courage. It will long to know its origin. And when a man recognizes the truth- he’s ours!”

-Tertullian: The Apology (A Letter to the Emperor)

That holy and serene confidence of the early Christians is the heritage of all Christians! We just have to remember to use it, then we too can smile...even back at death.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Hole in the Ground and the Mosque (Part III)

The Hole in the Ground and the Mosque continued:

Pope Leo XIII cautioned Catholics in the political world that neutrality towards Christ is at best, fleeting, and in a worst case scenario, something which devolves into an anti-Christian bigotry. He said, “To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. “ Indeed, if the Christian religion is put on the same level with other religions, given the same privileges as other religions, then, in the end, it will be rejected! As with Yahweh in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, our High Priest and King, will tolerate no rivals. We pray as much during the Sunday liturgy during the Gloria. In this liturgical prayer we exclaim: “For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.” What is professed in the sanctuary must be communicated in the public square. The Bishop and Statesman, whose authority comes from God, are both called to give allegiance to God.

Leo XIII goes on to say that it is ludicrous to hold that the individual citizen is bound to obey God and all that He commanded, but not the State, which is composed of individuals. He goes on to say that “it is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, would hold in honor the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favor religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety.” (Immortale Dei)

The State, therefore, must take a stand for Christ. At the time of the American Revolution, this was undoubtedly the case. We know there were State sponsored churches up until 1831. Philip Jenkins, author of the book, The Lost History of Christianity, said that throughout history religion fared much better when governments sponsored and favored it. Freedom of religion can coexist with a preferential treatment for Christianity. To a degree, the two exist in America today. Swearing on the bible in judicial courts and chaplains praying in Congress are but a few examples. Incentivizing and favoring Christianity, therefore, is perfectly consistent with the founding of this nation and the Constitution. Understandably, people are weary of too close a union between Church and State. But to radically separate the two as polar opposites is like separating a body from its soul; such a split is bound to result in the nation’s demise.

Secular-liberalism to Islam. If Christianity is put on equal footing with Islam, if the bible becomes interchangeable with the Koran; and chaplains are to be interchangeable with imam’s, then Islam will win and Christianity will lose its rights. To be sure, if Christianity is just another religion out of many, it will not survive long. The Christian religion is meant to be preeminent, exclusive and singular. The early Christians understood this well and for that reason they were deemed intolerant by the ancient pagans. However, the Gospel did spread throughout the world. As a matter of fact, early Christianity won souls to Christ by leaps and bounds precisely because it portrayed Christ and His Church as being exclusive and exceptional. The Savior was not preached as one God out of many; but as the only God. “I am God, there is no other; I am God, there is none like me.”

Dinesh D'Souza once said that many people believe that the reason for the Crusade in the Middle Ages was due to the ignorance Muslims and Christians had of each other. No, Dinesh said, they understood each other perfectly well. After all, they were the only two religions on earth applying for the same job. And what would that job be? Converting the whole world to their faith.

If Christians fail to do their job in carrying out the mandate of Christ, that is,
"to make disciples of all nations," I'm afraid we will get one of two things: The intolerance of Secular-liberalism or the intolerance of Islam. Neither of them are as freedom-friendly as Christianity. This is what The Hole in the Ground and the Mosque means for America.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Hole in the Ground and the Mosque (Part II)

In 1931, Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen wrote the following essay:

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”


Tolerance, Equality, and Diversity: Good in themselves, but when wrongly applied it will lead to our demise

Fulton Sheen said that intolerance is the foundation of all stability. Although this is the height of political incorrectness, it is nevertheless true. Intolerance, rightly considered, is basic to human existence. The endurance of the human body, for instance, depends on its intolerance to harmful agents. A good bodily immune system is one that does not tolerate pathogens. To the extent it tolerates infectious agents, the body will breakdown.

The United States of America has an immune system too. Part of what makes our national immune system is the military, the CIA and UICE, just to name of few. Much can be said about how compromised our national intelligence community, national border security and the war on terror have become. But the causes of America’s problems are deeper and more fundamental than compromised federal agencies. As the soul is the form and animating principle of the body, as thought is the cause of action, so too America's problems are spiritual and moral in origin.

As for individuals, true love requires real intolerance and hate; never towards people but always to principles or falsehood. From the love we have for our family, for instance, there comes a corresponding hatred to all that threatens their well-being. What applies to loved ones, applies even more so to God. Hating sin, error or anything which dishonors God is the duty of every Christian.

Our Lord commended the church of Ephesus on their hatred in the book of Revelation. He said, "But you have this in your favor: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans." On other hand, to the church in Thyatira, he rebukes them for their misplaced tolerance: "Yet I hold this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, who teaches and misleads my servants to play the harlot and to eat food sacrificed to idols."

In the second half of the twentieth-century and in the early twenty-first century, Christians forgot what it means to hate ungodly ways. Persuaded by Secular-liberalism, such hatred and intolerance came to be seen as a contradiction to Christian love and compassion. But in the absence of hating that which offends God, the toleration of moral evil has become a social virtue in our public institutions; more than that, it has become a civic duty. The protocol in many sectors of society is to refrain from judgment or criticism on a host of social issues.

Take, for instance, the following examples: In the 1960’s and 1970’s, we were told to tolerate premarital sex and with that, out of wedlock pregnancy and abortion. During the same period, we were told to tolerate divorce, cohabitation and homosexuality. As a result, divorce and cohabitation have become normative with one unintended consequence: couples are marrying less today! Moreover, the legalization and growing acceptance of homosexual unions has challenged the very definition of marriage, which, by nature, is between a man and a woman. The importance of this issue cannot be overstated because the natural bond between a man and a woman is the very image of God; and it is through this image that children come to understand the world and God himself.

Indiscriminate tolerance of these social values has led to intolerance of authentic family values. Advocating for family values and the respect for life, as held by Christians, is considered hate speech by the Left. As long ago as 1948, Bishop Fulton Sheen said that if Christianity does not interfere with Secularism, Secularism will interfere with it.

We find this to be equally true with the public school system. In the early 1960’s, the US Supreme court imposed a neutrality with respect to religion in our public schools; this was in deference to the wishes of atheists and secularists. As such, prayer to God and the reading the bible was banned. We know now where this has led. Many public schools have demonstrated intolerance towards anything Christian. Neutrality towards Christ is always short-lived. As Our Lord said, "He that is not with me is against Me." There is no middle ground with our Lord. In many ways, eternity is but the reflection of our earthly existence; either heaven or hell will be our inheritence.

America is going down a road that Israel (of the Old Testament) once traveled. In Israel’s worst days she held her worship of Yahweh as being equal to the pagan religions. Indeed, Yahweh was put on equal footing with false gods. The Canaanite religion, which included the sacrificing of children, was one such religion that Israel accommodated itself to. Prophets, over and over again, railed against this apostasy. As a matter of fact, this was the reason why King Solomon fell from grace. Albeit he continued the worship the God of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he also permitted rival gods to enter into his heart; as such, he built pagan temples to them. This was the beginning of the Kingdom of Israel’s downfall. Tolerating the false beliefs and inhumane rites of pagan religions led to Israel’s defeat…by pagan nations.

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord reminded the people of God, “I am God, there is no other; I am God, there is none like me.” Israel did not heed this truth. In the name of tolerating other religions and in the name of equality, Yahweh was considered to be just one more God among the pantheon of pagan gods. With this, the Lord sent the prophet Amos who said, “You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.”

Please read part III in the next blog

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Hole in the Ground and the Mosque

"A civilization is not always in reality richer and stronger in times when it bears the most visible marks of so being. We are rather apt to find that when it is most dazzling and outward seeming, its decadence has already begun...we must remember all the great Roman monuments whose remains survive to our day on a large scale belong to the third and fourth and fifth century of the Christian era- to the centuries of decadence and disillusionment. As the empire weakens, and ages, its monuments become more and more elaborate and colossal."

-Guglielmo Ferrero, Ancient Rome and Modern America 1914

Like the Roman Empire and other civilizations, America raised colossal monuments better know as skyscrapers. As Ferrero said, the greatest material and cultural achievements usually come about when the moral decay of a people has set in. For America, great buildings such as the Empire State building, the Twin Towers and the Sears Tower- each having bragging rights of being the tallest building in the world at one time -were built between 1930's and the 1970's. These "man made mountains" were symbols of economic progress. And yet, at the end of this forty year period, the cultural revolution and its new moral code was well under way.

Today there is exists a big hole in ground in lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood. Nine years have passed since its collapse. The resolve to build bigger and better Twin Towers suffers from paralysis. Indeed, this lack of resolve is but the symptom of a nation infected with moral decay. The zenith of great achievements, it would seem, has been reached and now we are entering the post-American era.

The imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is spearheading an Islamic center and mosque at ground zero, has shown more fervor for the Muslim cause than New Yorkers have in their resolve to build a memorial for the 3,000 people who have perished on September 11th, 2001. Indicative of the moral decline of a nation is the lack of determination to survive and the absence of resiliency in overcoming setbacks. The hole is still there- no monument, no building. The hole says a great deal about America's morale.

As to Ferrero's quote (above), moral decadence is obviously not the cause of architectural or industrial achievements. Nevertheless, it is the unintended consequence of a nation's prosperity. When a nation enjoys prosperity for any length of time, materialism and complacency are sure to follow. Those venerable ideals, virtues and sacrifice which forged the way towards an advanced civilization not only fade from public consciousness, but they become an object of derision among the upper and ruling classes of society. Public reverence for God, the respect for the marital bond, the high esteem for children and observance of chastity among the young are just a few of the social bulwarks that weaken when a civilization or nation suffers decline. In the absence of these values, patriotism does not fare well and the will to survive as a nation grows weaker. Old Testament Israel, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire are just a few examples we can look to for this history lesson.

The national debate over whether or not a mosque should be built near ground zero is good for America. This debate will hopefully lead to a re-examination of our priorities. I'm afraid that the moral revolution of the 1960's brought with it misplaced ideals that are foreign to America's founding. Tolerance, diversity, and equality, for instance, have been marketed and pushed to such an extreme that they literally imperil America's longevity as a great nation. To the extent these ideals are understood in a Christian context, will be the extent to which America will lengthen her days.

Part II on the next blog

A Catholic Historian's Take on the Tenacity of Islam

Past is prologue. No one demonstrates this more than the Catholic historian, Hilaire Belloc. Take some time and read these excerpts from his book, The Great Heresies, written in March of 1936. You will learn something about Islam and the events that are unfolding today. Knowing history is a key to knowing the future.


by Hilaire Belloc (1936)

Chapter Four

The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed

"The future always comes as a surprise but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam. Since religion is at the root of all political movements and changes and since we have here a very great religion physically paralyzed but morally intensely alive. We are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium which cannot remain permanently unstable. Let us then examine the position.

Millions of modern people of the white civilization that is, the civilization of Europe and America have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past.

I have said throughout these pages that the particular quality of Islam, regarded as a heresy, was its vitality. Alone of all the great heresies Islam struck permanent roots, developing a life of its own, and became at last something like a new religion. So true is this that today very few men, even among those who are highly instructed in history, recall the truth that Islam was essentially, in its origins, not a new religion, but a heresy.

Whatever the cause be, Islam has survived, and vigorously survived. Missionary effort has had no appreciable effect upon it. It still converts pagan savages wholesale. It even attracts from time to time some European eccentric, who joins its body. But the Muslim never becomes a Catholic. No fragment of Islam ever abandons its sacred book, its code of morals, its organized system of prayer, its simple doctrine.

These things being so, the recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. Who in the Islamic world today can manufacture and maintain the complicated instruments of modern war? Where is the political machinery whereby the religion of Islam can play an equal part in the modern world?

I say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past: one might say that they are blinded by it.

Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it; we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestral doctrines the very structure of our society is dissolving.

In the place of the old Christian enthusiasms of Europe there came, for a time, the enthusiasm for nationality, the religion of patriotism. But self-worship is not enough, and the forces which are making for the destruction of our culture, notably the...Communist propaganda from Moscow, have a likelier future before them than our
old-fashioned patriotism.

In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral Doctrine or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.

The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed: but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed."

The King's Dress Code: Optional or Mandatory? (Part II)

The King's Dress Code: Optional or Mandatory? continued:

The most important mission given to the Church by Christ comes down to this: She is to prepare souls for eternity. That is, the Catholic Church's main duty is to prepare souls to meet God face to face. Throughout the centuries, she made sure that each soul given to her care was wearing the white garment. If the person refused to wear this garment by not repenting from mortal sin and false beliefs, with sorrow but with a firm resolve, she did not hesitate to exclude the unrepentant sinner from her communion. Pope St. Leo the Great told his bishops in the fifth century that "those who refuse to share in our discipline cannot share in our communion." And it is this discipline that strengthens the unity of the Church; the unity that is so necessary if the truth is to be accepted by the world.

The Church considered it false compassion- a kind of cruel mercy -to allow the sinner to delude himself into believing that he was in God's good graces when in fact that was not the case. How many nominal Catholics have gone to their deathbeds without feeling the compunction of heart or the contrition for their sins because those within the Church- both clergy and lay -were afraid to tell them what their sins were? Indeed, they were permitted to attend the banquet at the altar here below without having to wear the white garment. But at the altar in heaven, what did the King say to them? Was their communion with the Church on earth consistent with their communion with the Church in heaven? Or did the King, immediately following their death, have to ask them to leave the banquet because they were not wearing the garment of repentance?

If repentance is an option then Jesus himself is an option. When repentance from sins such as promiscuity, cohabitation, contraception, and homosexuality (to name a few) is not insisted upon when proclaiming the Gospel, preparing souls for the sacraments or admitting candidates into the Church, then Jesus as Savior and Redeemer is out of a job. Frankly, there is no need for him if repentance from sin is up to the sinner. No sin, no Savior. And if there are no sins to repent from then why bother with Christianity at all?

Should we be surprised that people have responded accordingly by not coming to Mass? Should we be surprised that younger generations are having little to do with organized religion; even less so than older generations? The priesthood, the altar and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is utterly unintelligible without the need to repent from sin; that is, from "specific" sins, not just sin in general. Shepherds and teachers of the Faith need to "name that sin" or else Christians will simply make up their own short list of sins; and a short list it will be.

In recent years, the relaxed dress code of not having to wear the white garment has led to moral confusion in and outside the Church. The reason behind the small splash the Church seems to be making in Western Civilization is due to the churches being over-crowded with people who do not wear the shiny bright garment the King requires his followers to wear. As such, the Church does not shine as brightly; she is not as attractive; and her influence is not as transformative as it once was...and as it could be.

We need to reinstate the Lord's dress code so that the name "Catholic" can only mean one thing: An active follower of Christ who believes in the fullness of who He is and in the fullness of what He has taught us!!

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." -Matthew 28

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The King's Dress Code: Optional or Mandatory?

The parable of the Wedding Banquet was the theme for Thursday's Gospel reading(August 19th, 2010). It just happens to hold the key as to the reason why the Catholic Church has suffered great declines in Mass attendance, decline in priestly and religious vocations, and an increase of secularization in the world. An excerpt of that reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 22:

"The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’"

The Church, in many parts of the world, but especially in the West, does not require repentance in order to join the Church, or to receive the sacraments. Parents who show little resolve to live the life of Christ by, let's say, observing the Lord's Day every week are permitted to have their infants baptized; teenagers are not required to confirm their baptismal vows by professing to live out the Gospel before they receive the sacrament of Confirmation; engaged couples are not required to repent and abstain from living together before entering into the sacred bonds of Matrimony and worse yet, politicians who have a proven record of supporting abortion rights are not told to publicly renounce their sin against the dignity of life before approaching the altar. Of course, there are exceptions with each of these examples. But the point is that in the last fifty years repentance has become as option instead of an absolute necessity. And there lies the problem to the Church's woes.

In the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 2) the people asked St. Peter: What must we do to be saved? He replied, "Repent and be baptized." That is, repent first and then be baptized! And St. Peter could have gone on to say: Repent first and then receive the Body and Blood of Christ! Repent first and then receive the sacrament of Confirmation! Repent first and then receive the sacrament of Matrimony! Our Lord said, “Do not give pearls to swine and holy things to dogs lest they tear you to pieces.” He cautioned the Apostles and future Shepherds of His flock not to give the sacraments, the mysteries of the Faith, and even the name “Catholic” to those who would not respect holy things or be a worthy recipients of them. Jesus warned that to ignore this injunction would result in being “torn to pieces.” Perhaps the current day division within the Church, the conflicting messages coming from the Church hierarchy and the contradictions among Catholics on important moral issues is what our Lord meant when he said “lest they tear you to pieces.”

Repentance, which leads to holiness, is that white garment the Lord was referring to in the parable of the banquet. Repentance is a sincere effort to renounce sin and turn towards the Lord and the new way of life he has for us. Pope St. Gregory the Great said that the tears of repentance must come before the waters of baptism. Traditionally, repentance was the condition and the prerequisite of being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. If this repentance was wanting, then the candidate wishing to join the Church would simply be denied. By and large, this was the pastoral practice of the Catholic Church up until the 1960's.

For instance, in early Christianity (here I refer to the first millennium) a candidate wishing to enter the Catholic Church had to demonstrate to the Bishop over three years that he or she willing to observe "all that Christ commanded." And as late as the 1940's it was common practice in the Church's RCIA to ascertain that candidates believed all of the Church's teachings before being initiated into the Body of Christ, the Church. Unlike the servants in the parable who allowed the guest to sit down at the banquet without the proper attire, the Catholic Church was a jealous mother who made sure her children were properly dressed. I would argue that her dress code in centuries past bore a striking resemblance to the dress code the King enforces in heaven.

Please read part II on the next blog.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Propping Up Propisition 8 (Part II)

There are two institutions that need an urgent fix before the legal definition of marriage is to be indelibly set in stone again: the family and public education, the very foundation on which the State rests. If the family and public education are weak, so too will the State. But there is one additional layer, one additional institution which puts the family and education on solid ground: and that is the Catholic Church. When she uses all of the pastoral and supernatural means at her disposal- those means used especially during first millennium -then families and public schools will be Christian again.

If the soul is not saved, nothing is saved...including marriage...including education...and including the government. Christ said, "Without Me, you can do nothing." But do we take Him at His word? I don't think we do; at least when it comes to education and politics. I fear that Conservatives and even many Christians are content with making His Gospel a private affair. We cannot keep Christ out of the schools or the government. Papal encyclicals of the last two centuries have taught that the only true education is a Christian education. Pope Pius XI, for instance, said that if the school is not a temple it will be a den. Moreover, a State that is indifferent to religion will, in the end, be hostile to it. Hence, civil authority can be no more indifferent to Christ than the individual citizen can. State neutrality towards Christ is short lived. If it does not decidedly favor Christianity, like I said, it will eventually reject it.

The preaching of the Gospel in the public square by Bishops, priests and religious is the oil of healing which families and schools need. It cannot be just lay men and women who sanctify the temporal order. The whole Church must make itself felt in soceity and must use every means to do so. Preaching of the Gospel is a charism of Holy Orders. This charism is not the exclusive prerogative of Holy Orders but Bishops do enjoy the fullness of that charism which has, in centuries past, transformed a cruel and barbaric world into a civilized one.

Lay men and women no doubt participate in the charism of preaching and teaching, but it is an error to assume that bulk of that responsibility belongs to the laity. No. The New Testament, the Second Vatican Council, as well as Church Tradition, clearly states that the among the primary responsibilities of the Bishop is the preaching of the Gospel. But preach the Gospel to who? Just Catholics? God forbid! To non-Catholics as well. "Make disciples of all the nations," were the words of our Lord.

With Bishops leading the way, the Church has to find new ways and new venues where the Gospel can be preached so that unevangelized and uncatechized people may be reached. Like in the early years of Christianity, the 21st century heralds of the Good News must not be content with having people come to them; but they must go to the people. Bible studies in safe havens like the church basement is good for the parish community but it does have its limitations in reaching people. Somehow, someway, Christians must go to the streets, to the public square, to the media and even to the inner city neighborhoods.

With this, marriage as defined between a man and a woman will be recognized by the State. However, it first has to be accepted by the people. But without the Light of Gospel, people will have little incentive to withstand a highly motivated coalition of gay rights advocates.

With that said, where does this leave us? Where do we go from here? Principles are one thing but tactics are another. Is it realistic to do away with State-run education and to replace it with Christian education; especially in a pluralistic society? And what can the Catholic Church really do to shore up the state of the family and public education?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Propping Up Proposition 8

In the November 2008 a majority of California voters, approximately seven million, opted in favor of Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act), a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment which provides that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." And as most people know by now, Federal Judge Vaughan Walker, who currently serves as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, recently over turned Proposition 8.

The purpose of this blog is not to address the spiritual and cultural ramifications of Judge Walkers ruling or the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, which is massive, but rather the conventional methods by which many Christians and conservatives are responding to it.

Advocates for traditional marriage are commendably doing their utmost to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, and the USCCB, to name a few, are trying to hold back the political and judicial tide which favors the redefinition of marriage. In media venues such as Fox News, CNN, and talk radio, the defense of marriage appears to focus on political solutions, which is undoubtedly necessary. However, from all the talk that I hear about the defense of traditional marriage, it would seem that most of the eggs are going into this one basket: the "basket" of political policy.

For the defense of marriage, this is not a good place to be. Politics is the last line of defense. And the reason why politics is the last line of defense is because it deals with effects and not causes. For instance, those ideas which shape legislation or court rulings are first developed in relationships, families, schools or in churches long before they reach Capitol Hill or the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, before politics enters into the fray, it is in these institutions where ideas and worldviews find their origin. Government, good or bad, is the effect of culture. In 1948 Bishop Fulton Sheen said that, "A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. When our moral standards are different, our legislation will be different."

Personal morality precedes politics. And this is point at issue: Whether it be saving the integrity of marriage, religious liberty or free enterprise, we have to deal with those causes which undermines this way of life. Again, these institutions are the first and foremost influences on the individual citizen before he or she is even eligible to vote or old enough to take on civic responsibilities.

Take, for instance, President Barak Obama: Here is a man who was abandoned by his father, and then by his mother, only to be taken in by his grandma. This unstable and uncertain family structure contributed in no small measure to his views on the dignity of life, marriage and sexuality. It should furthermore be added that he was not raised in a religious household. In any case, second to the influence of the family was his education at Columbia University and Harvard Law School. Having a weak family and religious background, it can be argued that he was more vulnerable to the radical ideas his progressive education would inspire i.e., the belief that "the U.S. Constitution is a charter of negative liberties." Before Barak the politician, there was Barak the son of divorced parents, the heir of a nonreligious household and the eventual student of a progressive education, which no doubt prepared the way for his Socialistic views.

What is said of an individual can also be said of a nation. When marriages break down, when religious values fade from family life, and when public education ceases to be Christian, then you have a nation whose values are not unlike President Obama's. As a matter of fact, when we take a look at the demographics according to age, the younger the generation we consider, the more liberal and less religious you will find its beliefs. When Proposition 8 was passed in November 2008, those age 30 and younger were polled in California. The poll found that 66% of this demographic were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage; only 33% opposed it. Most studies I have read, reveal that people in their thirties, twenties, and teenage years nationwide are less Conservative, more Liberal and are less favorable to organized religion.

As anecdotal evidence, I had the experience of taking a survey of my own religion class in 2010 (freshman and sophomore's in high school). Mind you, this is a Catholic parish which prides itself on fidelity to Christ. In any case, I found that most of my students were in favor of same-sex marriage (as well as cohabitation). They had no concept of what impact same-sex marriage would have on souls, individual citizens and the culture at large.

With this generational trend, I cannot imagine that the legal definition of marriage- as being between a man and a woman -will be long sustained. Optimism is cheap if it is not rooted in reality. What the future portends is an uphill battle, no matter what political victories Conservatives or Christians envision for 2010. Again, I turn to Bishop Fulton Sheen's prophetic warning to America from his 1948 book, Communism and the Western Conscience: "If a time ever comes when the religious Jews, Protestants, and Catholics have to suffer under a totalitarian state denying them the right to worship God according to the light of their conscience, it will be because for years they thought it no difference what kind of people represented them in Congress, and because they never opposed the materialistic lie with spiritual truth."

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