The Guardian Angel: The Eucharistic Miracle of Gorkum El Escorial 1572

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 30th, 2015

crucifixion b“Father forgive them, they know not what they do”, from the mouth of Jesus we see what ignorance can cause. Then listen closely, “Would you knowingly give aid and comfort to any enemy determined to hurt, kill, and enslave you and everyone that you love and know? Or, worse yet, would you set back in silence and let anyone put the children at risk of going to hell for

We can say yes, and talk tough, not on my watch, even as it is happening on our watch. Yes we know the main culprit is Satan, and yes we should know that he has duped many in our culture in even in our family and friends to be his followers, yet not on purpose hopefully. Test everything to see if it comes from God or Satan, and pray that Mary and her spouse the Holy Spirit will help you to discern.

Then we have to be like Christ, say, “not my will but yours be done”, then get up off our knees like Christ, and take action, His action, to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him into the battle for the lives and souls of others.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may demonstrate what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I meet both those that are trying to do this daily, and those that think they already know all that they need to know, which is laughable to an infinite God. When they come to this point in their mind, Satan has a hold of them and they don’t even know it. With sadness so many then put not only their soul at risk, but also the souls of those they love by how they decide for themselves what is right and wrong.

Greg 1I know some of you intimately and some I have seen you at an event and have you on an email list for Eucharistic Miracles and other news at times, and keep each of you in prayer. Keep in the battle, stay awake, daily examine yourself, go to Adoration all the times you can, Go to Mass all the time you can, and never let up your battles for the lives and souls of others.

We must get past the rhetoric, we must say a Rosary daily, we must battle the powers and principalities, and we must expose evil. This is our time, this is our watch, and there are souls depending on us.

Pray for each other, pray for our Eucharistic and Marian Apostolate that all we do will be used by our Lord and HIS Mother to bring souls to Jesus, and then do more daily at every opportunity. Mass, Adoration, Rosary, Divine Mercy and then say Lord, how can I love you more daily, know you more daily, and take my will and guide my steps, Jesus I Trust in You. In HIS service through Mary, GregoryMary

Eucharistic Miracle of Gorkum, El Escorial 1572 

The relic of the Eucharistic miracle can be venerated even today in Spain. It is kept in the Royal Monastery in El Escorial, but the miracle was verified in Holland. Some Protestant mercenaries entered into the Catholic church in Gorkum and plundered it. As a sign of insult, one of the mercenaries trampled a consecrated Host with a spiked boot, which broke the Blessed Sacrament into three pieces. Live Blood immediately began to drip from these piercings, which in the Hosts formed themselves like three small wounds in the shape of a hoop that is possible to contemplate even today.

zwingli-diesThe “Sagrada Forma” (Sacred Form) is kept intact and venerated even today in the sacristy of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial (near Madrid). It was desecrated in Gorkum (in Holland) in 1572 by followers of Ulrich Zwingli called the “Sea Beggars” who were paid by the Prince of Orange.

After invading the city, the conquerors began to desecrate it, not sparing even the cathedral.

In fact, as soon as they entered, they began striking the tabernacle with bolts of iron, and seized from it the monstrance that contained the Blessed Sacrament. The Host was then thrown onto the ground and trampled with a spiked boot which broke the Host into three Pieces.

One of the profaners, penitent and upset by the sight, warned the Canon Jean van der Delft, who succeeded in making the Hosts safe.

The relic, after having passed through various dangers, was given to King Philip II of Spain in 1594, who then placed the Holy Eucharist under the care of the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial.

GorkumAbove the altar where the miraculous Hosts are preserved, the Italian artist, Filippo Filippini made four base-reliefs in marble and bronze that represent the phenomenal events.

The painting by Claudio Coello (1621–1693) represents the inauguration of the magnificent tabernacle commissioned by King Carlos II specifically to contain the Precious Relic.

In El Escorial on September 29th and October 28th, there are solemn festivities in remembrance of the miracle in which there are moments where the precious Host, known by the name of “Sagrada Forma”, is exposed and carried in procession.

“Stay with us today, and stay from now on, every day, according to the desire of my heart, which accepts the appeal of so many hearts from various parts, sometimes far away… Stay that we may meet You in prayers of adoration and thanksgiving, in prayers of expiation and petition to which all those who visit this basilica are invited… May the unworthy successor of Peter and all those who take part in the adoration of Your Eucharistic Presence attest with every visit and make ring out again the truth contained in the Apostle’s words: ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Amen”.

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The Catholic Defender: Reflections Of A Family Treasure

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 25th, 2015

IMG_2020In the Military, it is always quite common to have families uprooted and moved from one duty station to another. The past few days, I am making my final Military move as my wife Gigi and I are heading back to her home State of Alabama.

As with every move that I have ever been associated with, moving is always a daunting task. It is always amazing to me how much junk a person can accumulate as time goes on. But every now and again, we find some things that have been lost in the twilight of the past.

This picture was my wife when she was just 14 years old. To me this is a treasure. We were going through a chest once owned by one of her Brothers and I was able to see something of my Wife’s family foundations.

What stood out to me was the family bibles that were kept, some of them had been in the family for many years. In looking at one of the bibles, it was used by my Wife’s Father, Ed Ganus, which had an old News Paper clipping in it.

I never met my In-Laws as both were deceased before I arrived in the family scene. Through the Mass, I have become more aware of them as our hope is in the eternal glory.

IMG_2018This is an early picture of my Father-In-Law while a young boy taken from a family picture that was almost lost in the passage of time.

I am glad to have found this because there is a magnificent story here. I have often heard that at the end of a person’s life, often times what we have left behind can tell a great story.

This was what I found in Ed’s Bible:

If a child lives with criticism, He learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, He learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy, He learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance, He learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement, He learns confidence.

praiseIf a child lives with praise, He learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, He learns justice.

If a child lives with security, He learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, He learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and fellowship, He learns to find life in the world. (Author unknown)

Family heirlooms can be a picture from a distant past or some keep sake that you have, that can be individual, but what a great joy it is to be able to take a break from the pressures of moving and taking care of business to find such things.

I know that what I am saying here, many of you can identify with, especially if you are former Military. This is part of not only our family heritage, but a reflection of our Nations heritage. A time when family life was not so complicated and morals and standards were not so challenged.

This day I woke up in America, something bigger than myself, living the American dream. Reflecting on 26 plus years of Military life I see the importance of holding fast to our family traditions and national heritage.

IMG_2017If you ever get the chance to eat out at a Cracker Barrel  you will see pictures and portraits of people long ago that most will never know.

To find a picture like this of family members, it is a blessing, some of these are forgotten unless we keep a special place in our memory for them. In this picture, my Wife’s Father Ed was a young boy, but what jumps out is her Grandparents, James and Dona Ganus. Gigi’s Grandparents were married in 1902. We found that out today and that really shows a tie between the Old West and modern America. In this picture there is Ruby, Ezma, Mary, and baby Gladys. There would be in time another Son, Hugh, not pictured.

Next time you rummage through old family pictures, especially those like we found today, stop and pause and give thanks to the Lord for those who came before us giving us the kind of foundations like what I found my Father-In-Law, Ed left. Despite our weaknesses, how wonderful it is to be able to share what is left behind, a legacy that goes on.

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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Bagno di Romagna, Italy 1412

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 22nd, 2015

Jesus heals 6“O Christ, let my greatest delight be to see You loved and Your praise and glory proclaimed, especially the honor of Your mercy. O Christ, let me glorify Your goodness and mercy to the last moment of my life, with every drop of my blood and every beat of my heart. Would that I be transformed into a hymn of adoration of You. When I find myself on my deathbed, may the last beat of my heart be a loving hymn glorifying Your unfathomable mercy.” Amen.   Saint Faustina

“Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.” St. Augustine

“I hunger for the bread of God, the flesh of Jesus Christ …; I long to drink of his blood, the gift of unending love.”  St. Ignatius of Antioch

“O Lord, we cannot go to the pool of Siloe to which you sent the blind man. But we have the chalice of Your Precious Blood, filled with life and light. The purer we are, the more we receive.”  St. Ephraem

“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.”  St. Angela of Foligno

We were blessed to partake in yet another Marian Conference, this one in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on this past Friday and Saturday, April 10 & 11.

When God becomes so close to us and we can say “truly, truly” this is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity that is given to us by Jesus, that we understand that HIS heart, comes into our Heart when we take the Eucharist.

That in getting it, we can take each of these quotes into our hearts, saying with one heart as we are filled with life and light, “Lord we recognize that you did hold yourself in your hands at the last supper, and how can we really partake of your flesh unless we adore you in the Eucharist, I hunger for the bread of God, the flesh of Jesus Christ, and recognize and believe that the purer we are, the more we receive (did you hear that? does it make you want to go to confession more often?)and when we really understand, how can are hearts keep from transforming into a fire of love and gratitude, to where we say with our entire being, let me glorify Your goodness and mercy to the last moment of my life, with every drop of my blood and every beat of my heart.”

Four last thingsLet us never forget the “four last things” Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell *** three out of four of these things will happen to all of us, and you are given the grace to do what is right in God’s eyes, so that you are heaven bound.

The Catholic that “gets it” will be given the greatest opportunity, and because of the depth of what a Catholic who knows and understands, it is said, “those that have been given much, much will be expected.”

Once we are given the gift of wisdom, that brings knowledge and understanding, there is no turning back, and even more so, we are looked upon to be our brothers keeper, to share the gift we have been given with those that have been put into the path of our life.  Each of you have been given a gift, each of you, and each of you were born for this moment in time, so many at risk need your prayers and sacrifices to have a chance of entering heaven for eternity.

Embrace Sacrifice as you embrace prayer, so many depend upon you.

I give each of you my love in Christ, I pray for each of you to Mary for her intercession and mantle of protection around each of you and your families, knowing that Mary will do all in her power to bring you and your family to her son Jesus.  In HIS service through Mary, GregoryMary  Become a saint, you can do it.

Eucharistic Miracle of Bagno di Romagna, Italy 1412

In 1412, the prior of the Basilica of St. Mary of Bagno di Romagna, Fr. Lazzaro da Verona, while celebrating the Holy Mass, was assailed by doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament.  He had just pronounced the words of consecration of the wine when this was transformed into living Blood and began to flow from the chalice and fall onto the corporal. Fr. Lazzaro, profoundly moved and repentant, confessed his unbelief to the faithful present at the celebration and the profound miracle that the Lord had worked before his eyes.

bagno 2At Bagno di Romagna, in the Basilica of St. Mary Assumed, the relic of the Eucharistic miracle of the “Holy Cloth Soaked by Blood” is preserved. The historian Fortunio thus describes the miracle in his noted work Annales Camalduenses: “It was the year 1412.  The Camaldolese Abbey of Santa Maria in Bagno (then Priorato) was governed by Don Lorenzo, of Venetian origin. While he was celebrating the Divine Sacrifice, he mentally experienced, by diabolical influence, a strong doubt concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament; when he then saw the Sacred Species of the wine flow over the chalice and fall onto the corporal in the form of living Blood, and thus the corporal remained soaked. It cannot be told how great was his emotion and perturbation of mind in that instant in the face of such a profound event.  In tears, he turned to the bystanders, confessing his unbelief and the miracle which now had taken place before his eyes.”

The monk Lazzaro was then transferred to Bologna as chaplain of the female Camaldolese convent of St. Christine, where he died in 1416. The Camaldolese held the Parish of Bagno until the Napoleonic suppression of 1808; from then the Parish-Basilica of St. Mary Assumed, after having been held for a brief period by the diocese of Sansepolcro, in 1975 passed definitively to become part of the diocese of Cesena.

In 1912, Cardinal Gilio Boschi, Archbishop of Ferrara, celebrated the fifth centenary of the miracle, which was followed by a conference on Eucharistic studies. In 1958, His Excellency Domenico Bornigia, had a chemical analysis done on the marks of the corporal of the miracle at the University of Florence, which confirmed them to be of an ematic nature.

Corpus ChristiIn the basilica is found a colored and very rare incision on wood from 1400 called “The Madonna of the Blood,” which is found in the third chapel on the left. This image is thus named because, as Benedetto Tenaci, abbot of Bagno and eye witness of the miracle on May 20, 1948, tells us, the icon bled from the left arm.

Every year, during the Feast of Corpus Christi, the corporal is carried in procession through the streets of the city and is exposed on every Sunday of the temperate season which lasts from March to November, at the Mass celebrated at 11 AM.

MOST Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merit of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

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The Catholic Defender: Edge Of Reality

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 21st, 2015

realityWe are living in strange times, it is like people are living between a blur of reality and illusion. By the time people wake up to real life, it may be too late as people have accepted the illusion.

People try to hide their misery because they can’t face reality. They prefer to live within the shadow of darkness and refuse to be confused with the facts.

Faith is the “realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and people choose to believe what they see.

What is sensual versus what is sexual? There is nothing wrong with being attractive, but not to the point of vanity that causes sin and vice. Consider the following facts:

The Social Organization of Sexuality (SOS-1994) hints at some of the difficulties facing American families today.

Consider the report that those who cohabit rarely practice their faith. That plays an important role in the lives of the contemporary American.

reality 1Without maintaining a firm foundation, the societal conditions emerge resulting in a growth of premarital sexual encounters.

As I will show, this has tremendous impact on society with great social consequences. I want to stress on the report that those who cohabit rarely practice their faith! Again, that plays an important role in the lives of the contemporary American.

I have shared this before, but it is as true today as it was yesterday. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) now are the most common diseases in America next to the common cold and flu. Each year nearly 20 million new STD cases are reported.

That equates to something like 55,000 people per day being diagnosed with an STD. Tragically, this includes more than 10,000,000 teenagers (and growing), per year. Recently, the hard cold reality, 1 in 4 Americans have been statistically been diagnosed with an STD, including young girls down to the age of 12.

It is important to note that today, there are more than 110,000,000 total infections of Americans with an STD. For many, young people may not know they have such a disease as 60-80% are infected with STD’s that do not develop initial symptoms.

Because of the alarming rates today, female Soldiers are required to undergo annual Pap Smears because STD’s such as gonorrhea can hide behind mild cases of bladder infection or a vaginal infection. Nearly 50% of Female Soldiers had been diagnosed with gonorrhea.

reality 2New strains of gonorrhea are resistant to penicillin so treatments vary, but this has become far to routine across America today.

We are certainly living in a very confusing time. American Family values have been totally ignored and rejected. Children are learning how to have sex thanks to our government run public school system.

As we have seen going back to the Kinsey studies, sex education early on were devoid of teaching social norms and morality. It’s not surprising, with this knowledge, there are very little to say about values being offered with these programs in public schools.

This feeds right into the classic stereotypes of boys and girls moving towards puberty growing up. Teenage boys are out to make conquests and the girls are looking to be wanted, accepted, and loved.

As a result of the rejecting of our Christian foundations, there are many children being born out of wed-lock, many being born without Fathers. Many of the Fathers are “Dead Beat Dads” who care little for the children they help create.

This has hit the black community the hardest. They have a 70% plus rate of children born out of wed-lock. The book (The Social Organization of Sexuality)  reports that Black men and women were more inclined to have “three or more partners in the last twelve months.”

reality 3It is not easy for teenage mothers raising children and still go to school. Careers are put on hold as our youth are many times growing up to fast in a fast paced world.

Everything in the media want to make the culture of the sexual revolution look enticing, fun, even recreational, yet unfortunately, the reality of this glamorous life style is misery.

I am hearing that people are questioning why men are becoming less emotionally involved with members of the opposite sex. Is this why many men resort to homosexual relations? That could be a future study in itself.

It’s interesting that the SOS (pardon the pun) reports that nearly half of co-habitations end within a year. Some might marry, but many end in divorce.

Tragically, the impact this has on Americans leads to more broken families. I think that is because “romance” is lost and the human heart is absent from the marriage covenant.

reality 4With the constant barrage on married couples, it would seem hard to find many aging couples out there. But they are out there! It is always great when we have couples celebrating their 50th anniversary in our Parish!

I maintain that there is a huge differences between desire and lust, about as wide a difference as marriage and prostitution.

Lust only cares about self-gratification where desire leads to wanting to please your spouse. Courtship used to be a major way to date, but not today, dating today, our social norms and expectations have turned our society upside down.

That is the per-marital condition. Within marriage, it is still showing that 70-80 percent of Americans still disapprove of adultery, maybe this is residual of a standard gone by, but it is still considered taboo.

In conclusion, it is evident that sexuality in America is like a two-headed coin, because of what we have learned, there are remarkable advances we can take that can enrich marital sexual health.

However, like a loaded gun, if sexuality is not properly understood it can literally destroy people. If sex was love, America would be a very loving Country. That does not seem to be the case. Sin destroys.

Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, ”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,’Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

reality 5Year after year the United States Government pours out millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood who is one of the largest Abortion providers in the Country. They are wanting to make Abortion accessible to all nations.

I once told Jane Fonda that if the people of the world would obey the teachings of the Catholic Church, Abortion, AIDS, and all the problems associated with Sexually Transmitted Disease would be gone over night. That has not changed, but the message of the Sexual Revolution is in full swing as if they have conquered.

Homosexual liberation is part of the Progressives agenda and they have the political influence to win due to the Progressives in Government.

Pope Paul VI viewed Abortion as related to Artificial Birth Control (HUMANAE VITAE). They are closely related. The past few years it has been the Government policy to sell condoms as “safe sex”. As a result this icon of the Sexual Revolution, has pushed equality for those who push for the Progressive message: Anything goes.

reality 6Let’s take a good look at some of the results to this new found freedom. In 1964, when the Beatles hit America by storm with the Ed Sullivan show, their song, “I want to hold your hand” at that time was revolutionary.

1 out of every 32 graduating Seniors that year was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). 1964 was close to the beginning of the Sexual Revolutions beginnings. The next few years saw radical changes and Woodstock would be a voice of a generation.

In 1982, Olivia Newton John had one of her greatest hits “Physical” which says, “I took you to an intimate restaurant, then to a suggestive movie, there’s nothing left to talking about it, except horizontally,I want to get physical, I want to get animal, I want to hear your body talk”. This is a bit more explicit from “I want to hold your hand”. That year 1 in 18 graduating Seniors had been diagnosed with a STD.

You push into the 1990′s and things really began to heat up. Music really began to become far more raunchy with the creation of “HipHop” and MTV’s popularity, the University of Michigan conducted a study finding that the average listener was hooked into the music 8 hours per day. By 1996, HipHop was gaining popularity through their artists such as Ludacris. By this time, 1 out of every 4 graduating Seniors were diagnosed with a STD.

Reality 7The constant message of sex has it’s consequences. Young people will imitate whom they admire and grow into whom the imitate. The Apostles instructed us to imitate their example. Today, our youth have been exposed to a lie that is tearing down the fabric of Society.

Pope Paul VI was very prophetic.

STD’s are the most common diseases in America next to the common cold and flu.

20 Million new STD cases are reported each year. That is about 55,000 per day.

60 million Americans are infected with an incurable STD.

There are now more than 60 different kinds of STD’s that exist.

20 different STD’s are rampant among teenagers.

63% of all STD’s occur in persons less than 25 years of age.

STD’s infect 10 million teenagers each year and growing.

reality 8Last year it was reported that 1 out of 4 girls have been diagnosed down to the age of 12. 60-80% infected with an STD do not develop initial symptoms.

AID’s has been a leading cause of death (among 18-25 year olds) despite wonder drugs that help extend life, there is no cure. The following statements reveal the danger condoms present in acquiring STD’s:

Dr. Nicholas Fiumara, Former director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said, “In summary, then, it’s ineffectiveness makes the condom useless as a prophylactic against gonorrhea, and even under ideal conditions against syphilis”.

The U.S. Public Health and Human Services Task Force warned, “The risk of condom failure in anal intercourse is so high that the practice should be avoided entirely-with condoms or without”.

Dr. Robert Redfield, AIDS Specialist at the Department of Retroviral Research, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research states, “Condoms are not safe. They’re dangerous. Sex with a condom with an infected person is not protected. It’s very unprotected. It’s very, very dangerous”. He goes on to say, “The truth is, condoms are not an appropriate medical or public solution to this epidemic. It’s not going to work, and we are losing precious time to re-educate, train and equip our young people on how to avoid becoming a statistic in the AIDS epidemic”.

reality 9Dr. Harold Jaffee, Chief of Epidemiology for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, refering to AIDS stated, “It is just too dangerous a disease to say that people can do whatever they want as long as they wear a condom”.

Dr. Malcolm Potts, Once President of the Family Health International and one of the inventors of condoms lubricated with spermicides, confessed that anyone who tells a person who engages in high-risk behavior to use a condom “is like telling someone who is driving drunk to use a seat belt”.

Infectious Disease Specialist Robert C Nobles warned, “Passing out condoms to teenagers is like issuing them squirt guns for a four alarm blaze”.

Theresa Crewshaw, M.D., Past President of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and a member of the Presidential AIDS Commission, says that equating condom use with safe sex “is, in fact playing Russian Roulette. A lot of people will die in this dangerous game”.

Formerly, Pope Benedict XVI was attacked by the Obama Administration because he said condoms is not a good policy to deal with the AIDS crisis in Africa. The Secularists and the Progressives will continue to push condoms and the billions spent at Planned Parenthood. Taking what the Scriptures teach and the 2,000 year constant tradition of the Church, I will proclaim the good news of the Lord.

reality 10The last real point is what condoms do to the soul, the spiritual death that takes you away from God. Sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin. A condom does not change that fact.

Mother Mary warns that more souls go to Hell because of the sins of the flesh than any other reason.  Despite that fact, people are not listening.  Recently I drove from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, back to Texas.  You can learn a great deal from just talking to some of the In and Out Marts where you fill up with gas and get water and chips for the road.

People are conditioned to live on the Edge of Reality where people living the illusion.  The goal of temptation is to get you to fall, that is it.  Wake up and remember the call of Jesus, “Come Follow Me”. Jesus is the Deliverer and through Him we stand on reality.

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The Catholic Defender: America In The Crossroads

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 21st, 2015

flaglibertyAPE001America has always been a beacon of hope because of the foundation from which we were built. Like the Titanic, America has been sailing adrift from those foundation for a long time. In the early 1900′s, the political will moved away from our biblical foundations as pluralism developed into several factions. As a result we have been in a culture war that is being waged in every city and State throughout the Country. We see a conditioning taking place as our higher places of learning is steeped in this wave of secularism. Our Judicial System is legislating from the bench pushing faith and values aside making way for Gay Marriage.

KeeleyWhat one generation tolerates the next generation accepts. It is like every few years faith and culture is being transformed by an invisible force. The erosion of our conscience becomes apparent watching the news, listening to the debates, we are seeing this transformation taking place right before our eyes. I can imagine what the Israelite were thinking when paganism became entrenched during the time of King Solomon.

The United States Supreme Court began eroding our Christian foundations for a more secular State establishing a Church and State clause that became battle cry of the Secular Humanist.

prayerOn June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion. Note that prayer in the public school system had deep roots in our culture. This clearly caused deep divisions in the Country. It is true that Catholics at the time were supportive of the result for a while, but only because Protestants would use the bible in School to proselytize. That was a genuine issue that could have been worked out for students but the outcome neither Catholic or Protestant would support.

The following year, in Abington School District v. Schempp, the Court disallowed Bible readings in public schools for similar reasons. These two landmark Supreme Court decisions centered on the place of religion in public education, and particularly the place of Protestantism, which had long been accepted as the given American faith tradition. Both decisions ultimately changed the face of American civil society, and in turn, helped usher in the last half-century of the culture wars.

DonohueThe effect of the culture war has had an effect. Since 1990, the percentage of Catholics in the United States has remained steady at about one in four.

However, the percentage of Protestantism has decreased from 60 percent to 50 percent. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League believes that a radical shift towards individualism over the last quarter-century has a lot to do it.

Today, according to the American Religions Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut roughly Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian.

In 1990, the figure was 86 percent. The last decade we see a clear drop of eleven percentage points. In his 2006 speech to a liberal Christian group, then-Sen. Barack Obama said: “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”

obamaThe rise of Secularism is important to note because as Christianity is being diminished there is a rise of paganism and hedonism. President Obama believes this so much, he feels he can risk making war on the Catholic Faith without any major challenge.

He has the media, the Progressive Liberalism that is central in the Democratic Party. The American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) have systematically sought to take Christianity our of public life.

Since 1933, the Secular Humanist have since sought to De-Christianize the United States of America. They have put together three manifesto’s that is their blue print in transforming society. The Humanist Manifesto I was written in 1933 by Roy Wood Sellars and Raymond Bragg with thirty-four signatories including philosopher John Dewey. There are 15 items in this manifesto and so let’s take a look at this to see if we can see a cause and effect:

First: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

atheist 1This seems to be what is taught in Science today. Evolution is taught as a fact and not a theory. Robert L Waggoner asks a question in the form of an article which he states, “In syllogistic form, the argument may be stated as follows: Major Premise: The theory of evolution is now taught in all public schools. Minor Premise: The theory of evolution is a major doctrine of modern humanism. Conclusion: Therefore, all public schools now teach humanism. This is where many young people loose their Christian foundation.

Second: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.

evolutionThat is Macro Evolution and that is part of the problem. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 states, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene”. The Holy Spirit restrains the heart that binds evil from taking over completely. There is still good in the world. We as Christians are to stand for justice and liberty defending the rights to worship God in freedom. But these freedoms are eroding because of the rebellion taking place.

Third: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.

religionThis is the goal of the Humanist, to fight faith where ever they find it.

They are establishing a terrible web that if the Church does not respond, it will continue to get worse.

The war on Christmas, the rise of Atheism is a result of several decades of persistence from the Progressives and primarily silence from the Church.

Fourth: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.

We are to mold and shape culture. The Catholic Faith endured 246 years of Christian persecutions through ten major Roman Emperors. This philosophy denies the presence of the omnipotence of God.
It builds upon personal ability without recognizing a creator of the universe. This philosophy is standard in the public school setting.

rebellionFifth: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine he existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relation to human needs. Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method .

Religion must bend the knee before the light of scientific method? Abortion and Gay rights become a personal decision. The bible and religious teaching must conform to the mind of human reasoning. There are no moral absolutes. This is a very dangerous situation because God is a jealous God. The secularists deny anything spiritual. Consider St. Peter’s warning, “Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come to scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?” I see this at the college that I attend this very day. Do not think that the Lord’s coming is delayed, He will come like a thief in the night, but nobody knows the day or the hour.

Sixth: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of “new thought.”

losing-my-religion_webTo the Secularist, this is the end of Christianity so they have to work down the importance of faith in America. That means a lowering of patriotism, liberty, faith in the public arena of ideas. The Catholic Faith stand in their way and so that is why the Obama Administration is willing to challenge it.

Seventh: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation-all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained.

sexThis one is very important, the Secularist has to compete in the arts. Much of the culture war is due because of the rise of sexually explicit movies, vulgar language, violence.

This has a great impact on all people. Ephesians 5:11 states, “Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them”.

The secularist then wants to take away Christmas vacation and turn it into Winter break. Easter vacation then becomes spring break. All throughout the Country we see the battle of singing Christmas carols and having manger scenes. It is going to get worse if we do not stand up!

Eighth: Religious humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist’s social passion.

John-Lennon-john-lennon-2985663-1024-768This is the heart and soul of the Atheist, at the end of man’s life there is not heaven or hell, it is all here and now.

John Lennon sang, “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people Living life in peace… Above us only sky, Imagine all the people Living for today… Re-read # Eight and look at the words by John Lennon! Surprised?

Ninth: In place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being.

sex 1This one wants to take away worship and become self centered expressing a “heightened sense of personal life. The Secularist, social well being is to be able to do what ever you want to do with no rules. There is no sin so their is no moral responsibility.

This particular stanza of the Humanist Manifesto I is very dangerous because of the consequence. Every day in the United States, there are over 55,000 diagnosed Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 110,000,000 Americans with an STD, and 65,000,000 with an incurable disease. Get the picture?

Tenth: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.

Biblical-Morality-SuppressedThe Secular Humanist want to take away the richness of God’s grace, no more Easter Vigils, no more conversion, no more faith.

That is the end desired goal of the Atheist. You take away the supernatural then God does not exist.

They have to do away with the Church, the bible, it’s customs and traditions, most of all, it’s worship and festivals.

Eleventh: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.

brazil-essay-2aSecular education is key to fulfilling this goal, public schools must teach children to not listen and follow their parents.

Put your faith only in human ingenuity and reasoning.

Faith after all is only “wishful thinking”?

You ever notice that schools do not teach well academically math, history, reading, but people are becoming great philosophers?

Twelfth: Believing that religion must work increasingly for joy in living, religious humanists aim to foster the creative in man and to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.

homo 1Joy is found deep within each person, to create in each person the knowledge of self discovery.

Who are you, the answer is found deep within yourself. If your a homosexual, that is who you are. This is being pushed by the Government as they try to come down on Faith in God. In effect, we are making gods out of every man accepting this philosophy.

Thirteenth: Religious humanism maintains that all associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life. The intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction of such associations and institutions with a view to the enhancement of human life is the purpose and program of humanism. Certainly religious institutions, their ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities must be reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows, in order to function effectively in the modern world.

kneel-before-godThis is where the battle line is drawn, to eradicate the practice of religion, that religion must be “reconstituted” to allow and bring forth secularism and the freedom of the inner self.

Consider Ephesians 3:14-19 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”.

Fourteenth: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.

warThis one is important to understand the current onslaught taking place in American politics. Look what is taking place with Obamacare?

This stanza is a threat to the free market system and free inter-prize. The Secularist wants to radically transform society with an Atheistic socialistic utopia, Marxism.

This should give you the willies up your spine? This all is part of the culture war. We are caving in and it is my prayer and hope that we wake up before it is too late!

Fifteenth and last: We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from it; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.

atheismThis is the credo, this is the desired end result of a Secular State, to affirm life (except the pre-born), seek to e\ilicit the possibilities of life (meaning, it is my body, I can do as I want)?

To take from the haves and give to the havenots? People do not need to achieve, everyone should get the same pay regardless what we do.

All these 15 stanza’s seem to be entrenched today. Can we shake it off like a boxer who gets his bell rung? It is going to be an uphill fight, we really got to pray for this Country.

So stand the theses of religious humanism. Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind.

Man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will to the task.

tullThis is the challenge, Jethro Tull wrote these words: “In the beginning Man created God: “and in the image of Man, created he him. 2 And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,that he might be Lord of all the earth when it was suited to Man. 3 And on the seven millionth day Man rested and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good. 4 And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground, and a host of others likened unto his kind. 5 And these lesser men were cast into the void; And some were burned, and some were put apart from their kind. 6 And Man became the God that he had created and with his miracles did rule over all the earth. 7 But as all these things came to pass, the Spirit that did cause man to create his God lived on within all men: even within Aqualung. 8 And man saw it not.

Because America has largely lost it’s soul and direction, we see many examples of attacks on faith, in art, in the movies, and in the music.

In Oklahoma right now, a battle is taking place that Satanist are wanting to place a statue of Satan at the State Court House. Have we really drifted so far down the road that this is even being considered?

RNS-SATAN-STATUEI’m going to quote a scripture coming from 1 Kings chapter 9.

In place of Israel, I’m going to insert America just to make my point. 1 Kings 9:6-9 states, “But if you and your descendants ever withdraw from me, fail to keep the commandments and statutes which I set before you, and proceed to venerate and worship strange gods, I will cut off America from the land I gave them and repudiate the nation I have consecrated to my honor. America shall become a proverb and a byword among all nations, and this America shall become a heap of ruins. Every passerby shall catch his breath in amazement, and ask, ‘Why has the Lord done this to the Land and this nation? Men will answer: they forsook the Lord, their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of the Old Country for religious freedom; they adopted strange gods which they worshiped and served. That is why the Lord has brought down upon them all this evil”.

prayer 1I exchanged America because I want to show how it is important that we pray and unite to bring back the honor due God and put away this Secularism.

The Catholic Church will not be overcome by the gates of hell, but we must stand up, souls are at stake. Pray for our Country.

Lord Jesus, May your continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and, because without you she cannot endure in safety, may she ever be governed by Your bounty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

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The Catholic Defender: Behold Your Mother 2015 Marian Conference

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 14th, 2015

IMG_1966April 10-11, 2015 the Marian Association of Springfield/Cape Girardeau Diocese sponsored the recent Marian Conference at Popular Bluff Missouri.

The event held a good number of speakers to include Catholic recording artist, Donna Lee who performed a concert and spoke at the conference giving her inspiring testimony.

During the Concert, Donna gave testimony of her life and what influenced the writing of a number of her songs. I have become very familiar with her music and her explanation about them really added meaning to me.

Donna also lead the Divine Mercy in song and sang a number of her songs at the request of Dr. Gregory Thompson during some of his talk.

Along with the noted speakers and the musical talent of Donna Lee, the Conference held Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy, Confession, and two Masses for all gathered.

It was a great joy for me to have played a part in this weekend conference. I drove from Copperas Cove Texas straight to Popular Bluff which took about 13-14 hours driving one way. That was a long time on the road and I an thankful for the Angels helping me get to and fro safely.

I was given the added grace of staying at the rectory with Father David Coon, the Parish Pastor along with long time friend Dr. Gregory Thompson.

IMG_1990When I first met Dr. Thompson, he had been conducting a series of “Shake The Nation” Conferences which I spoke at a number of the later venues, but I had a vision of Dr. Thompson putting together similar Conferences for a primary Catholic audience.

Over the past few years, Dr. Thompson has done just that. He has inspired the coming together and serves as the local Director of the Southern Missouri Marian Association.

The Marian Association has a World wide following, but this movement in Missouri is expanding to Kansas City this coming June.

Dr. Gregory Thompson and I have spoken a number of times at different events from Arizona to Missouri to Kentucky.

Each time I am always glad to listen to his story of how the Lord saved him from death, giving him new life in the Faith.

I am so thankful to have played a part in this as he also Co-hosts a radio show on Deepertruth (Wednesday Evenings 7:00 P.M. Central) as we feature each week a Eucharistic Miracle.

During his talk Dr. Thompson focused on the importance of the Eucharist in the faith life of the Christian. How Mother Mary is a gift to us to help us in our walk.

IMG_1998Another one of the speakers who is certainly no stranger to Deepertruth fans, John Carpenter spoke on the Miracles of the Rosary.

John goes back all the way to the Virgin Mary and the Apostles in how the Church began the foundation of the Rosary prayer. Along with his historical explanation, he offered over 100 pictures and illistrations of Marian apparitions.

Like Dr. Gregory Thompson, John Carpenter Co-hosts a show on Deepertruth based on Marian apparitions. Over the past five years, he has become a leading speaker on the subject.

One particular feature that John pointed too were the many times Soldiers were hit by an IED that had a Rosary in the cab of the vehicle and despite the destruction of the vehicle, no one was seriously hurt. That happened several times.

John also put together a poster that showed a map and listing of the many countries around the world that have listened in on the radio show each and every Sunday night at 8:00 P.M. Central on Deepertruth.

John Carpenter is also writing a book that I am participating that will be coming out later this year or early in next year. What a great opportunity to serve Our Lady.

IMG_1991Another terrific speaker I was pleased to meet was Bryan Thatcher, and what a story he has. He was a Doctor who basically gave up all his career to become founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy.

Bryan gave his testimony of how he came to a closer walk with the Lord through discovering the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, Our Lady, through St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. He spoke of his world wide mission for the Divine Mercy.

Bryan also focused on the Divine Mercy for the sick and dying. I was able to share with him my experience of praying the Divine Mercy for fallen Soldiers in the field and for my own Mother who received special graces from the Lord.

Dr. Gregory Thompson and I joined with Bryan Thatcher to end the speaking portion of the Conference with an opportunity to answer questions from the audience. That was fun as that was not rehearsed and you never know what to expect in that situation. That was really a blast, maybe next time we can have more time for great questions.

There were also a number of other speakers, Sam Rufflino, Father Daniel Hirtz, Father Manuel, and the showing of the movie, “Mary of Nazareth”. That is one great movie that you can get at Ignatius Press.

IMG_1975It was a great Conference and I was glad to have participated in it. I spoke on the last four things, Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven. All these talks were recorded by St. Joseph Radio out of St. Louis. So all of these talks you can purchase.

I want to personally thank Father David Coon for his hospitality over the weekend, as well as Father Manuel. Father Manuel is from Mexico and while we were there in Popular Bluff, he celebrated his 10 year anniversary of being ordained a priest. Way to Go Father Manuel!

St. Joseph Radio, The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and the Conference Planning Committee all played a role in preparation. I also want to give Nicholas a quick thanks, he is the Youth Minister for the Parish and he was a huge help and support. He is now a Donna Lee fan along with a good number of others at the Conference! Thank you Donna!

Receive, O Lord, all my liberty, take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold You have given me, I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. St. Ignatius Loyola

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The Catholic Defender: To Make A Cake Or Not To Make A Cake…

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 8th, 2015

cake 1The following story is a very interesting story that shows what is taking place by a radical left wing agenda. The article is written by Todd Starnes (Published April 7, 2015), the host of FOX News & Commentary — heard daily on hundreds of radio stations.

Bill Jack wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Bakers should not be forced to make a cake that would violate their conscience or freedom of expression.

Jack, of Castle Rock, Colo., is making national headlines over an experiment he conducted in the wake of attacks on Christian business owners who refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages.

Last year, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple who wanted a wedding cake. Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, is a devout Christian, and his attorneys argued that to force him to participate in the gay wedding would violate his religious beliefs.

The Civil Rights Commission saw it differently.

So if Christian bakers who oppose gay marriage are compelled under law to violate their beliefs – what about bakers who support gay marriage? Would they be compelled to make an anti-gay marriage cake?

Jack, who is a devout Christian, asked three bakeries to produce two cakes – each shaped like an open Bible.

cake 3On one side of one cake he requested the words, “God hates sin – Psalm 45:7.” On the other side he wanted the words, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin – Leviticus 18:22.”

On the second cake he asked them to write another Bible verse: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us – Romans 5:8” along with the words “God loves sinners.”

And finally, Jack wanted the bakers to create an image – two grooms holding hands, with a red “X” over them – the universal symbol for “not allowed.”

Now if you read the national news accounts of Jack’s experiment – you would’ve read that he wanted gay slurs written on the cakes. But that wasn’t true.

According to the commission’s own report, there’s no mention of Jack using any gay slurs – unless you consider Bible verses to be gay slurs.

Mark Silverstein, the legal director for Colorado’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, accused Jack of wanting obscenities written on the cakes.

“There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it,” he told the Associated Press.


cake 4Does the ACLU consider the Bible to be obscene?

As you probably guessed, the bakeries rejected Jack’s request for what some would call “anti-gay” cakes.

“If he wants to hate people, he can hate them not here in my bakery,” Azucar Bakery owner Marjorie Silva told 7NEWS. She called the writing and imagery “hateful and offensive.”

So Jack filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – just as the gay couple did in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Using the commission’s logic – if a Christian baker is forced to violate his beliefs, shouldn’t all bakers be forced to violate theirs, too?

Absolutely not, says the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

It ruled that Azucar did not discriminate against Jack based on his creed. It argued that the bakery refused to make the cakes because of the “derogatory language and imagery,” The Denver Channel reported.

Jack told me it’s a double standard – pure and simple.

“I think it is hypocritical,” he said. “It’s unequal treatment before the law. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act is being used to coerce businesses to participate in events that violate their consciences.”

Jack said he decided to conduct his experiment to prove the Colorado law was “only being applied to Christian business people.”

cake 2“Christians need to understand that this is the state of Christianity in the United States,” he said. “We are now second-class citizens. Our free speech is being censored.”

To be clear, Jack believes the bakeries had the right to deny him service. His point was to draw attention to the hypocrisy.

“I stand for liberty for all, not liberty for some,” he said. “If we don’t have liberty for all, then we have liberty for none.”……

Editors note: We are living in terrible times and souls are at stake.  That is why it is important for the faithful to stand up and be accounted.  Recently, I have heard Bill O’Reily of Fox New say on the “Factor” that Christian leaders need to be coming out to respond to these things.  Many of them are largely silent.  I agree with that assessment, remember the slogan, “You loose what you don’t use,” The Lord didn’t give the Democrats nor the Republicans the power over death or the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, that was given to the Catholic Church.

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The Catholic Defender: The Woman Caught In Adultery

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 8th, 2015

woman-caught-in-adultery“and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in the middle they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and in the Law Moses has ordered us to stone women of this kind. What have you got to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for an accusation to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he straightened up and said, ‘Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until the last one had gone and Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained in the middle. Jesus again straightened up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go away, and from this moment sin no more.”

PassionOfTheChrist_YouTubeWhat a great example of the power of God! I have heard it said that God’s greatest creation was not creation itself, but rather His redemptive act.

Redemption is a greater good for all of nature. This is a work in process awaiting for the appointed time when all sin will cease. This is the essence of the good news, setting all the captives free, to reach out to the lost and forsaken. God is the Father of the fatherless.

This is why the Lord chose the Apostles and commissioned them to go to all the nations. To dispense God’s grace through the Sacraments. To preach Salvation to all peoples. Jesus gave his glory to the Church. John 17:22, Jesus prayed, “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASt. Paul himself received this grace states, “Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.”

What are the “riches of Christ?” What is the “mystery hidden from ages past?” It is the fulfillment of the new Covenant promised through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34), it is the sign the people who first abandoned Christ asked for (John 6:30).  The Eucharistic Celebration.

Taking the story of the Woman caught in adultery, redemption empowers her to be rejoined with the people of God no longer the outcast. We are all forgiven through the power of God’s mercy.  St. Paul gives special consideration to God’s mercy stating, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this IS from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting TO US the message of reconciliation.  So WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, as if GOD WERE APPEALING TROUGH US. We implore you on BEHALF OF CHRIST, BE RECONCILED TO GOD ( 2 COR 5Vs 17-20).

Setting-Captives-Free-image1Liberating and setting the captives free is always the first issue to resolve in restoring a sinner back to God’s mercy. Notice James 5:19-20, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring them back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”.

In the case of venial sins (non-damnable sins), those can be prayed away by faithful believers, they can also be taken away by receiving the Eucharist. However, St. John speaks of sin that is damnable, something more is required of the sinner coming with mortal sin such as the woman caught in adultery. St. John writes, “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly (venial), he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin (mortal), about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” (1 John 5:16-17)

dismassThe woman caught in adultery was given a great grace, so did the Good Thief (St. Dismas) on the cross next to Jesus.  St. Dismas speaking to the other thief said, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man (Jesus) has done nothing criminal.’ Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” What was Jesus response? “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43)

Like the woman caught in adultery, St. Dismass received an absolution from Jesus. Ladies and Gentlemen, when you go to the Sacrament of Confession, you experience the same power of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus gave his glory, his authority to forgive sins, “on the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews…Jesus came and stood before them ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord, the Disciples rejoiced. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said again. ‘As the Father has sent me so I send you.’… He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

CONFESSION_1This coming Easter Vigil there will be thousands, no, millions who are being received into the Catholic Faith and what a glory this is. You probably will not hear this on CNN, NBC, or even FOX, but Heaven will be rejoicing. All of our Candidates will have gone to Confession before this great night. All of our Catechumens who will be Baptized will eventually go to Confession as this is God’s way of cleaning up sin.

The Act Of Contrition: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

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The Catholic Defender: Thorn In The Flesh Continues

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 7th, 2015

PAUL_S_THORN_IN_THE_FLESH_sm “But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me”.  (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

There has been a lot of thought regarding what this “thorn in the flesh” might have been for St. Paul.

Could it have been something physical, spiritual, maybe psychological? Could it have been something of all three? Whatever the “thorn” was, Jesus said that his grace was sufficient.

glorynthornsI’ve heard some suggest it could have been the stigmata, but nobody knows for sure.

The important thing was that what ever the thorn might have been, it did not define who St. Paul was.

St. Paul, formerly known as “Saul” was a major figure within the Jewish Sanhedrin at the time of Christ, but there is no mention of him until the 7th Chapter of Acts and the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

From that point on a fierce persecution of the Church began in Jerusalem and the Church was scattered into the countryside of Judea and Samaria.

Only the Apostles hung tight in Jerusalem. The persecution was so severe that St. John would understand Jerusalem to be the “Whore of Babylon” (Revelation 17:3-6) referring to the persecution of the Church.

Ananias_restoring_the_sight_of_st_paul_(34663925)The story of Saul’s conversion to the Catholic Faith is probably and certainly one of the greatest conversions stories in the history of the world.

The impact of Saul, now St. Paul, would change the world. St. Paul’s missionary journey continues to have a huge impact on the contemporary world.

Saul would encounter Christ as he was heading towards Damascus to arrest Christians.

The Lord supernaturally appeared to St. Paul, “a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.”

St. Paul is certainly one of the most important figures in the history of the Church. Despite the many successes of St. Paul, he bore many hardships, he was jailed, he was beaten, shipwrecked, snake bitten, and he had his “thorn in the flesh”. He traveled far preaching the gospel, he became known as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

thornWhat a great story and one that many of us can identify with. We all have had our “thorn in the flesh”, our crosses to bear. Like St. Paul, many of us may feel the pain and anguish that might be physical, spiritual, or psychological. Maybe a combination of all three. What is important is to not allow these things to define who we are. That our faith is what defines who we are.

St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” reminds us of the human spirit that is capable of reaching out to God in faith and overcoming the obstacles for the prize.

13 books of the New Testament are attributed to St. Paul, it is also believed that he wrote the book of Hebrews which would make 14 letters the Catholic Church maintains in the bible.

vatican 1The Catholic Faith has a multitude of examples who followed the example of St. Paul.  There are Saints that the Lord has given us like St. Paul who are great role models.   Many great examples!

Like St. Paul, let us too, find courage to “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). 

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The Catholic Defender: Roll Away The Stone

Posted by Donald Hartley - April 5th, 2015

IMG_1539One of my favorite Easter songs of all time was written by Tom Conry, a noted Catholic artist and writer.

I had served as a Eucharistic Minister in the absence of a Catholic Priest for my Military Units for many years. For me, this was always a great blessing.

I would be able to conduct a Catholic lay service and provide consecrated hosts for the Catholic population.

I remember one Easter, while deployed to JRTC, a 30 day rotation to Fort Polk Louisiana, the Chaplain’s Assistant and I worked on putting this song (Roll Away The Stone) together for our Easter time service.

This was a great joy as the Chaplain’s Assistant was a Protestant who came to love this song. Music can tame the most savage beast (lol). We had a great time and the Soldiers really liked what we did.

During this time we worked on making the shell of a lay Catholic Liturgy of the word service into a nice presentation with music.

I have been asked why I don’t seek the Deaconate, I am interested but this must be a calling of the Lord and he would have to open the door. To this point, I just have not been given such a call.

I am very surprised that this song is not that well known, not even among Catholic Choir directors and planners? Here are the lyrics to the song:

roll away the stoneRoll Away The Stone

They have been saying all our plans are empty.

They have been saying “Where is their God now?”

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one will remember.

They have been saying Power rules the world.

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying no one hears the singing.

They have been saying all our strength is gone.

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

They have been saying “All of us are dying.”

They have been saying “All of us are dead.”

Roll away the stone see the Glory of God.

Roll away the stone.

Jesus risenJesus has won the battle as he did rise from the dead on the third day. When I was young, my Mother sent me to a Catholic grade school (St. John La Lande) in Blue Springs Missouri, this would be one of the great sacrifices my Mother did for me. The Sisters taught us music and one of my favorite Easter songs ( The strife is o’er, the battle done) has always stuck with me:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.

IMG_1512We are the Easter People, we are the people of the Lamb who was slain and rose from the dead.  The challenge today is helping people to “roll away the stone” from their hearts so they can see the glory of God.

The Lord told Jeremiah, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). The Lord calls us to full participation through prayer, witness, example, and if necessary, words. Everything must be built upon with love.

The Lord God says through the Prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26).

This is the mission of the Church, to set free the captives through the Lord’s Sacraments. There are many people out there who are crippled and disfigured due to sin, due to injustice, due to what has happened to them. Some of them are part of our own family.

IMG_1507The sword of truth can pierce the hearts of stone, but love must be our foundation. Love for the Lord and his people.

Easter Vigil is always my favorite time of the year.

Each year millions around the world are being received into the Catholic Faith.  In the United States we will have something between 150,000 to 180,000 Catechumens  and Candidates each year, but there will be literally millions coming from all over the world.

Africa has seen a large growth to the Catholic Faith, in fact, the United States has been benefiting from African priests coming to serve in ministry.

Africa is literally sending missionaries to the United States.  That is an amazing thing that is happening.  Even in the United States Military, I am seeing a good number of African priests.

IMG_1528The Easter Vigil is such a great Service because of the honor given to Christ in anticipation to the Easter Resurrection.  “It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of His power working within me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)

I believe that the Lord can change the conditions of a persons heart. What do you do if you have a loved one who is living in the bondage of sin? Sometimes it can seem hopeless, remember, we are to “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Remember St. Monica? She prayed for her family for 30 years, we are not to lose heart, God is in control. In war, I was able to help soothe the grieving of Mothers for their sons death simply by sharing the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. It gave great consolation. We can pray for our loved ones who have built crust around their hearts of stone.  The Lord can set them free, create in me a clean heart oh God, that I too can “roll away the stone”.

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